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Welsh Slate Helps Transform

Landmark German Gymnasium to

Restaurant

Roof slates fromWelsh Slate feature on a refurbished

building at the heart of the regeneration of Kings

Cross.

Some 6,400 natural slates fromWelsh Slate have

helped restore to its former glory the roof of the first

purpose-built gym in England, albeit now as a de-

signer 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 in-

stalled 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 - in-

sulation, 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 en-

joyed from ground level as it was originally intended.

This involved carefully removing internal partitions

and rooms that once filled the space to reveal the build-

ing’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.

The original gymnasium built in 1860. The indoor

events of the National Olympian Association’s

Olympic Games were first held in1866

Contractors World UK Ireland Vol 6 No 2

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