Opened in October 2022, Grace House is an award-winning housing scheme, delivering adaptable apartments, specialist services for residents and a range of communal facilities as part of the new prestigious Central and Cecil Housing Trust development in St. John's Wood, London.
Appointed by Regal London as the specialist offsite design and build contractor, PCE were thrilled to continue the close relationship it has built with Regal, following previous successes such as Commercial Road, built in Whitechapel, London, in 2020.
The modern and attractive façade and structural exoskeleton for the affordable housing development was designed and delivered using PCE’s HybriDfMA Bespoke System, with its adaptable supply chain responsible for the offsite manufacture of 1,150 architectural precast concrete units, designed using the latest technology and manufactured offsite to the highest quality. The benefits of the Bespoke System meant PCE’s highly skilled, multidisciplinary installation team required just 8 personnel to oversee the successful assembly of all elements in just 23 calendar weeks, surpassing expectations whilst ensuring safe working practice, recording a total of 8,832 accident free work hours. The 13-storey structure comprised of 170 apartments, of which 153 are affordable housing, sits in an affluent district of leafy residential streets in central London, just minutes from Regents Park and the Lord’s Cricket Ground.
Grace House was architecturally a complex project, requiring the combined use of PCE’s state-of-the-art digital capabilities and the expertise of its structural design team and onsite installation team to design and deliver a structure that not only captures the eye, but surpassed the expectation of the client. Due to the extent of the interfaces with the internal finishes, drainage, glazing and the balconies, detailed co-ordination in the digital environment was critical within the design development phase of the exoskeletons to the north and south elevations. Concealing all connections was key to ensuring a seamless finish to the precast cladding, aligning to the architects intent for the highest quality. The PCE Way is intertwined with efficiency and as such, the design of the connection details were co-ordinated to ensure cladding panels were assembled level by level, so that each of the 13 floors were handed over to Regal sequentially. This allowed windows and curtain walling to be installed at the earliest point, not only resulting in a progressively weathertight structure, but also allowing finishes to progress as the structure was built.
Further, key to PCE’s strategy was to re-engineer projecting frames as a structural concrete frame consisting of a series of reconstructed stone columns and beams, with integral structural steel beams cast in to support the prefabricated balconies. Doing so reduced the risk of working at height, simplified the interfaces with the building and significantly reduced the risks associated with connectivity, as well as removing multiple trades. This strategy was important to deliver the highest quality finish whilst reducing time, cost and risk.
The aesthetics of Grace House’s 7,500m² stunning façade were crucial to the delivery of this project. The 13 storey structure was clad in its entirety with 994 reconstructed stone and brick-faced precast concrete cladding elements making up the modular façade, removing all external scaffolding whilst enabling the concurrent installation of the windows and building envelope. The reconstructed stone finished spandrels were manufactured with integrated balcony support connections and ventilation ducts cast within them, servicing each apartment with fresh air. The structural exoskeletons of the North and South facades used the same reconstructed stone concrete mix within a series of offsite manufactured double storey columns and linking beams. The exoskeletons are a key component of the architectural intent for the building facades and integrally link with the main feature balconies to form the composite system.
The East and West elevations, consisting of vertical precast concrete panels, featured a reconstructed stone bespoke textured finish with a nature-inspired pattern paying homage to John’s Wood leafy London suburb heritage.
Overall, whilst a very challenging and complex project, Grace House was an exciting and rewarding challenge that the team met head on, exceeding expectations and surpassing targets. With already three awards to its name, including Best Social Housing category for Europe at the International Property Awards.
Paul Eden, co-founder of Regal London, said of Grace House:
“The resulting superbly elegant building, designed with the residents of Dora House to create the best possible outcomes for future residents, embodies our principles at Regal London of design excellence and quality whilst providing accessible accommodation for those who need it.”
It is another successful project under the banner of PCE and Regal, adding to a portfolio of success that PCE looks forward to continuing.