Pilkington Pushes the Envelope

17 May 2005
There is much to admire about the architecture and ambience of London's Kensington High Street. The buildings are a chic home to some of most sought after names in fashion. Appropriately, a stylish and elegant rejuvenation has taken place in this royal borough, assisted in large part from Pilkington Planar™ Triple, the world's first triple glazed frameless system.
Kensington High Street


The new retail and office development at 47 – 53 Kensington High Street, a five-storey high building, is the first significant use of the Pilkington Planar™ Triple system in the UK.

The offices will be completed in January 2005, with retail area on the ground and basement floors taken up by the Dixons Group, who has just opened a PC World.

Pilkington Planar™ is the world’s leading structural glass system and Pilkington Architectural has continued to develop the product in response to architects’ needs and demands ever since the original was first pioneered over 40 years ago. The latest innovation offers improved thermal insulation, design flexibility and multiple glass combinations for better solar performance and noise control.

As a joint initiative between Shepherd Developments and Scarborough Group Plc, this is an exciting new build project that stands on the site of a former listed building, Kensington Market. The old market building had fallen into considerable disarray and had to be demolished. All that remained was a hole in the ground with billboards surrounding it.

This highly prestigious London site called for considerable expertise, particularly in the planning and design stage, to ensure project and legislative compliance. The architectural philosophy also had to be extremely sympathetic to the local vernacular. The client, contractors, Kier London, specialist sub-contractors, Parry-Bowen and architects, Sidell Gibson Partnership, worked together closely to devise an appropriate solution.

The restoration of the site was subject to strict planning restrictions and a public enquiry. The design responsibility rested with Sidell Gibson Partnership to create a contemporary look that infused the cultural and social characteristics of the local milieu and to provide a design of unashamed modernity, reflecting in its façade the traditional plot widths at the site frontage.

Nestling amongst the hustle and bustle of one of the UK’s busiest and trendiest shopping streets, there was also a number of practical requirements. The external envelope had to provide an effective barrier against street and traffic noise and it had to meet energy efficiency regulations.

Kier London and Parry Bowen settled on using Pilkington Planar™ Triple and in the process became pioneers for this system. It answered the design brief by taking its inspiration from and reflecting the art deco style and vertical glazed towers of the nearby Barker’s department store. The triple glazing system created a tall vertical glass ‘bay’ above the ground floor and a clear shaft of glass with minimal structural intrusion.

While the glass helped to produce a stunning and dynamic exterior, the functionality aspect of the system was also a key factor in its specification. Pilkington Planar™ Triple is particularly robust, provides structural integrity and it more than surpasses current legislative requirements. It also offered excellent solar control to create a comfortable and high quality working environment for those inside the building.

Pilkington Planar™ Triple extends the boundaries of design and enables architects to create highly contemporary, light and airy spaces. With this project, the system fulfilled the practical requirements of the cultural, commercial, planning and environmental issues, but it also helped to create a building with flair and imagination, one that will capture many an admiring glance from passing shoppers.