In modern London, Soho House stands out as one of the city’s most renowned high-end boutique hotels, but it wasn’t always this way and there was a time when the very survival of the building was severely threatened.
Built in 1732, Soho House is a four-floor grade II-listed building and one of Westminster’s oldest mid-Georgian townhouses. It is a building with enormous historical significance and a long line of fascinating tenants, including a variety of Earls and Chancellors, a pair of leather cutters and at one point in the 1800s, “300 women at work for the army”.
However, on July 10th, 2009, disaster struck when the air conditioning system caught fire and the fire spread through the building, destroying everything and leaving just the concrete shell. The job of bringing the building back to life was undertaken by Soho Estates, who collaborated with Soda Architects to restore the specific details of this particular and very special Dean Street edifice to recreate a building that did justice to the original and to the centuries of history and heritage.
Soda Architects brought in various experts to take care of different aspects of the restoration. One unique distinguishing feature of the building was a series of hand-painted murals adorning the walls of the main entrance hall. These were created by a famous theatrical artist called John Devoto, and miraculously they had survived the fire, merely suffering smoke damage rather than being totally destroyed. These murals were eventually restored and painstakingly recreated; original wood panelling was incorporated where it was possible; reclaimed wooden floors were laid; elaborate cornicing was replicated; original period furniture and Georgian fireplaces were added; and because of our previous experience of working on high-end renovations on listed properties, Storm were hired to restore the windows.
This restoration project lasted two years from start to finish, and our involvement was necessary at the beginning and towards the end of the job. Initially Storm and representatives from Soda Architects met with the clients and the main contractor to pitch solution ideas. Because of our wealth of experience on similar kinds of project, our ideas were readily accepted, and a strong rapport was built between all parties.
The next step was to put those ideas into action, which we did by creating a sample window, working closely with Soda Architects. Once that sample was given the go-ahead, we were given a completion date to fit the windows and the work was scheduled for towards the end of the project.
As the bulk of Storm’s work creating the secondary glazing is done in-house, we were able to have the job prepared well before the completion date came around. Then, when the rest of the project was just about completed, we were able to arrive on site and fit the windows. The fitting took around two weeks to complete and the glazing and the windows fitted perfectly, much to the clients and, of course, our satisfaction.
Seeing Soho House restored to its former glory is one of the great pleasures of our job and it was great to play a part in achieving this.