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Contractors World - 2016 Vol 6 No 2

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Welsh Slate Helps Transform Landmark German Gymnasium to Restaurant

Welsh Slate Helps Transform Landmark German Gymnasium to Restaurant

Some 6,400 natural slates from Welsh Slate have helped restore to its former glory the roof of the first purpose-built gym in England, albeit now as a designer restaurant.Roof slates from Welsh Slate feature on a refurbished building at the heart of the regeneration of Kings Cross.

Some 6,400 natural slates from Welsh Slate have helped restore to its former glory the roof of the first purpose-built gym in England, albeit now as a designer restaurant.

More than 600 m² of Welsh Slate’s 500 mm x 300 mm Penrhyn Heather Blue County-grade slates have been used on the main and clerestory roofs and flank roofs of the dormer windows of the Grade ll listed German Gymnasium - a landmark in the King’s Cross regeneration masterplan.

They were specified by architects Allies and Morrison to return the roof to its former appearance after the original Welsh Slate roof (which is an important early example of the use of laminated timber to enable broad spans) was removed and the building was left with only a bituminous felt covering across the structure.

The new roof over trusses up to 20 m wide was installed over four winter/spring months by Attleys Roofing who were reliant on multiple, small deliveries due to the tight site, lack of storage and range of materials required to bring the roof up to today’s standards - insulation, vapour control layer, counter battens, felt, battens and Welsh slates.

Originally designed by Edward Gruning and built in the 1860s, the German Gymnasium was influential in the development of athletics in Britain.

Allies and Morrison were commissioned by developer Argent to restore and repair the fabric of the building to a shell and core finish to enable subsequent fit out by one of three shortlisted restaurant operators. Conran and Partners established the restaurant concept design and completed the fit-out which includes a new steel mezzanine and staircases.

The proposals restore the original volume of the German Gymnasium removing as much of the first floor as possible to allow the large laminated timber trusses and closed boarded roof structure to be seen and enjoyed from ground level as it was originally intended.

This involved carefully removing internal partitions and rooms that once filled the space to reveal the building’s original internal volume. The long galleries that once ran along either side of the first floor were restored, building from the original timber structures still buried beneath the later finishes, using replicated timber strut detail and the cast iron columns with decorated capitals as support beneath them.

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