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Finalist for the Office Architect of the Year Award 2023, Barr Gazetas guides us through the specification challenges present at Holbein Gardens

Holbein Gardens Barr Gazetas 1

Source: Philip Vile and Tom Niven

Holbein Gardens is a redevelopment and extension of a 1980s building, located off Sloane Square in London

The judges for this year’s AYAs were impressed by Barr Gazetas’ body of work, as the practice has been shortlisted for Office Architect of the Year.

In this series, we take a look at one of the team’s entry projects and ask the firm’s senior architect, Pradumn Pamidighantam, to break down some of the biggest specification challenges that needed to be overcome.

Holbein Gardens Barr Gazetas 2

Source: Philip Vile and Tom Niven

To meet the client’s target to achieve net zero operational carbon by 2030, Holbein Gardens is an all-electric building with a considered approach to material specification

What are the three biggest specification considerations on this type of project? How did these apply to your project?

The main specifications were CLT, steel and facade upgrades.

The CLT was chosen specifically to reduce the embodied carbon and use of concrete and steel. By combining it with reused steel, we created a hybrid structure with a unique combination of materials.

In tandem, the facade upgrades were an integral part of the design consideration, where we picked high-quality windows from Schuco with cradle-to-cradle certification and used lime mortar with the new brickwork to enable disassembly if needed in the future.

What were the biggest specification challenges on the project?

One of the biggest challenges with using sustainable products is the lead time to acquire them. The use of reclaimed bricks took a long time to source along with the reuse of the steel, which took a lot of coordination and checks to see if it would work with our scheme.

Holbein Gardens Barr Gazetas 3

Source: Philip Vile and Tom Niven

The design centred around retaining the original four-storey structure and adding a one storey extension to create 25,000 sq ft of workspace

What were the key requirements of the client’s brief? How did you meet these both through design and specification?

The key challenge and brief from Grosvenor was to create a flagship building that matched their ambitious sustainability targets for 2030. This meant that the design team took a very considered and thoughtful approach to each section of design work to ensure it was the best design option or the most sustainable product application.

The result is a 100% electric building with a clean energy supply, that alongside other interventions and initiatives, enables it to become net zero by 2030.

What did you think was the biggest success on the project?

The building is a big success in itself as it acts as a model for refurbishing dated buildings into the sustainable workplaces of the future. The careful consideration we gave to the reused elements, the retention of the facade and the reused bricks and pavers, shaped the design approach from the very beginning.

Project details

Architect Barr Gazetas

Lime mortar Lime Green

Timber frame Isover

Insulation Rockwool

Wallboard British Gypsum 

Roof Bauder

Windows Schuco

Ironmongery Dline

Raised access floor RMF

Our “What made this project” series highlights the outstanding work of our Architect of the Year finalists. To keep up-to-date with all the latest from the Architect of the Year Awards visit here.