Page 20 - London Business Matters May 2020
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 20 Your business   May 2020 Renaissance at Somerset House As a showcase for the future of building restoration, there are few structures to rival Somerset House. Through a combination of meticulous stonework, painstaking redecoration and their patented façade gommage® technique, London-based restoration specialists Thomann-Hanry® have restored the building’s spectacular South Wing to its original splendour The project marks a return for Thomann-Hanry® to the site of previous triumphs, as Som- erset House head of buildings Mick Figg explained, “Works were carried out two years ago on the courtyard façades and the results were tre- mendous, so we’ve now engaged in a further programme of works with Thomann-Hanry® to complete the facades here at Somerset House”. Inspired Situated just to the east of Waterloo Bridge and built on the site of a Tu- dor palace belonging to the Duke of Somerset, the four-wing, neoclassi- cal grandeur of Somerset House was designed by Sir William Chambers in 1776, with construction complet- ed in 1780. Inspired by Chambers’ attachment to Palladian architectur- al principles, Somerset House is de- fined by a giant order of pilasters and engaged columns that span the piano nobile and mezzanine. The complex is elegantly arranged around a large interior court, with two narrow lateral courts. Further Victorian outer wings were added in 1831 and 1856. Until construction of the Victoria Embankment in the late 1860s, the River Thames lapped the South Wing, with three great arches enabling boats and barges to access landing places within the building. Creative hub Somerset House was originally designed as one of London’s first public buildings to exclusively house government and education- al institutions, such as the Royal Academy and the Society of Anti- quaries. Today, this iconic landmark is an important creative hub – and home to some of the city’s most celebrated names in the arts, from the National Youth Orchestra and the British Fashion Council to the Courtauld Gallery and Institute. As a highly sought-after venue for sum- Somerset House was originally designed as one of London’s first public buildings to exclusively house government and educational institutions, such as the Royal Academy and the Society of Antiquaries another important factor, “We al- ways have to look at new technolo- gies, especially in the conservation world. Façade gommage® is different from the traditional methods and I think it’s very important, like the rest of the world, that we do move onto new technologies.” Delicate Entailing façade gommage® of the entire elevation, the cleaning phase of the project took place over some 12 weeks from late autumn into the early new year. Carried out from mobile hydraulic platforms, the company’s patented process is ideal- ly suited to the delicate restoration of historical structures. Projecting fine powders under compressed air across - rather than against - all sur- faces, façade gommage® gently eas- es off decades of accumulated dirt, with residues lifted away for remov- al and recycling. As all machinery had to be lifted from ground to terrace level, set- ting up for the project presented a series of interesting logistical chal- lenges. However, with extensive experience of working in difficult access sites, the Thomann-Hanry® team were able to have their equip- ment up and running quickly and expediently. Once the façade gommage® works were complete, attention turned to repair and redecoration of Somerset House’s imposing windows, charac- terised by monumental pediments and straight heads. The company’s team of expert painters, decorators, stoneworkers and banker masons carried out meticulous repair and replacement work on all window, façade and baluster masonry. Thomann-Hanry® are a London- based world-leading façade cleaners also specialised in the restoration of stonework. Past two years have seen them working on prestigious landmarks and historic archictectural gems such as King’s College in Cambridge, Somerset House, The National Gallery and The Reform Club       mer event hire, it was necessary for works to take place during the win- ter which, as it turned out, included three massive storms. Under such inclement conditions, the advan- tages of façade gommage® being a non-scaffold system were even more self evident than usual. Moreover, the non-scaffold ap- proach was also key in the decision to appoint Thomann-Hanry® to un- dertake the works, as Mick Figg ex- plained “...not having to use scaffold on the building really influenced our decision to go with Thomann-Han- ry®. It makes the works really flexi- ble compared to having a big scaf- fold.” Figg went on to point out that the innovative approach offered by the façade gommage® process was 

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