18 November 2016
The Devonshire Club is shortlisted in the ‘Adaptive Re-use’ category at next week’s European Hotel Design Awards (EHDA). Regardless of the result next week – here’s why we think it’s already a winner.
Built in 1768 to serve as a warehouse for the East India Company, the site for the Devonshire Club was formerly used to store raw silk and textiles from Bengal. The two buildings were taken over by the Port of London Authority and used for storing valuable goods such as cigars, oriental rugs and tortoiseshell. By the 1950s, the shipping business had moved to the London Docks, and in 1979, one of the buildings was converted into office space, while the other was used for residential purposes.
Fast forward 35 years. The buildings were crying out for regeneration, and that’s where Blackstone Group L.P. – the American multinational private equity firm – stepped in. They purchased both buildings, and real-estate firm SUSD was appointed as the architects, March & White as interior designers, and ISG as the main contractor.
Tasked with turning the interior designer’s concept into a reality, we had to navigate a series of complex challenges to deliver the scheme. The scheme features 68 opulent bedrooms, a wellness centre with treatment rooms, humidor and gymnasium, restaurant and multiple bars, so it was a challenge feat. Changing the use of a historic building is also fraught with complexities – here are just a few that the team successfully navigated:
- Grade II Listed status
Being almost 250 years old, and playing an integral part in London’s trading industry, the two warehouses were granted Grade II Listed status. The buildings’ facades were protected as were a number of internal elements that needed to be carefully protected during the course of the project. Planning permission was granted for a spectacular glazed link bridge to unify the two historic warehouses.
- Sustainable solutions
Window replacement was not in the original specification but it became quickly apparent that a wholesale upgrade was required to improve the thermal and acoustic performance of the building. To minimise disruption to neighbours – all of this work was carried out internally, with temporary internal scaffolding removing the need for an external system.
- A considerate neighbour
Located in a bustling and exclusive part of London, it required a robust approach to noise reduction and considerate working practices. Throughout the duration of this complex project we received zero complaints from our immediate neighbours and achieved a CCS score of 38.
- Logistical complexities
If you’re piling above a London Underground Tunnel you need to be confident that you have robust processes and an expert subcontractor. We also ran the risk of finding an unexploded Second World War device on our site, therefore an archaeologist had to be on hand during the excavation.
We’re justifiably proud of this keynote development and are delighted that the Devonshire Club is shortlisted for the 2016 European Hotel Design Awards, which takes place on 21 November 2016.