Architecture studio Orms have upcycled the former Camden Town Hall annexe at King’s Cross, polishing the brutalist 1970’s construction to house a boutique designer hotel. It features distinct hand-rounded windows and a curved glass roof extension.
The Standard, now one of London’s hottest hotels, has been featured in Forbes (“25 Coolest Hotels in the World”), British GQ (“Best hotels to stay this year”), designboom, The Architect’s Journal and dezeen.
In partnership with Crosstree Real Estate Partners, they tasked Orms architects in London to work with the existing structure and heritage value, applying the principle of “maximum retention of existing fabric.” The “expressive” brutalist concrete façade of the former Camden Town Hall office building, constructed in 1974, has been respected and refurbished with a fresh update and rooftop extension featuring curved glass.
The original tinted windows were replaced by clear double glazed units, curved and flat, fabricated at Cricursa. The rounded corners were precisely crafted by hand in a process seldom used and by few manufacturers.
With a strict acoustic design specification, the glass is laminated inboard and outboard with acoustic PVB, providing excellent sound damping performance combating the noise from the busy intersection at ground level. It also features a low-e coating for added environmental efficiency.
From the Architects
Housed in the former Camden Town Hall Annexe, a 1974 Brutalist structure overlooking King’s Cross, the 266-room hotel marks the first in Standard International company’s global growth ambitions.
As lead consultant, Orms was responsible for the exterior architecture / shell and core, and worked alongside interior designer Shawn Hausman Design and interior architect Archer Humphryes on behalf of Crosstree Real Estate Partners and The Standard.
Orms began the conversion from offices to a contemporary boutique hotel by retaining and cleaning the original brutalist concrete frame. The original tinted-windows in their distinct rounded rectangular frames were then replaced with clear glass, and on the building corners, rounded panes with high-grade acoustic specification were inserted to combat noise from the busy roads below.
The façade’s existing precast concrete panels formed an integral part of the building’s structure and so could not be removed or altered without significant structural remodelling. Adding three new-build storeys to the existing structure was a key component of Orms’ brief, and to accommodate the additional weight of the three new floors, Orms collaborated with Structural engineers Heyne Tillett Steel to add new steel columns to the existing structure. These were threaded like needles down through the existing waffle slabs to the 1st floor transfer slab and concrete columns below. The columns needed to be carefully aligned with the waffles on each floor and be incorporated into the build-up of the new dividing walls between bedrooms.
Simon Whittaker, Associate at Orms says, “Our proposal to reuse, adapt, and extend the existing Brutalist building was supported by English Heritage. They especially welcomed the reuse of the annexe on the grounds of its ‘considerable design merit’ and accepted that the height of the extension was ‘integral for making the design fit for purpose’. The bold design has completely transformed the perception of the building, reimagining it for its new use as a destination hotel”.
To create the rooftop extension PVD coated stainless cladding was used and deliberately angled to form a solid, sculpted roof element, catching the light differently throughout the day to create a constantly changing display. On the 8th floor, facades constructed in timber and glass allow the interior materials of the bedrooms to ‘flow out’ onto their private terrace which feature outside baths. Above these the 9th and 10th floor bays cantilever out – to match the profile of the existing building below – to host the new restaurant and bar, and a roof terrace above.
The top floor is served by a dedicated external shuttle lift which glides up the north face of the building opposite St Pancras and a reinstated public garden to the south, originally closed due to anti-social behaviour, connects the hotel to the local streetscape and the hotel’s bar and restaurant.
Read more about acoustic performance and energy efficiency in our curved glass here.