The golden citadel: the restoration of Westminster Fire Station
“The Westminster Fire Station restoration and regeneration was all about creating an experience for those that live there, with sustainable and natural materials,” says Jennifer Benningfield, experienced architect and founding principal of Openstudio Architects.
“We needed to find a reliable supplier of sustainable and natural materials, which were suitable to tie in with the heritage structure.
“The challenge was sourcing the right materials that were compatible with the fabric of the existing buildings. Working with Lime Green, we managed to develop a solution that matched the original building’s beautiful aesthetic and historic character.
“As a key supplier of lime-based products, their flexibility and reliability helped to make our job easier – and we received a lot of praise for the high-quality and beautiful new courtyard building. The lime mortar is an integral part of the brickwork and proves that it is appropriate for contemporary, as well as historical, structures,” praises Jennifer.
About the project
Using a team of specialists, Openstudio Architects supported the site team in using old and traditional construction techniques to refurbish and develop buildings in a contemporary way, with beautiful results.
“There were two phases to the Westminster Fire Station project,” explains Jennifer. “The first involved refurbishing the existing building, the Grade II Listed Edwardian Fire Station built in 1906 and decommissioned in 2014, to create a restaurant and bespoke housing.
“The second involved developing the site further by adding a new residential building to the rear of the site surrounding a garden courtyard, which is where we used Lime Green’s mortar.”
Supporting the local community
“The project was situated on a very constrained and challenging site,” continues Jennifer.
“With its central location, the construction works undoubtedly had an impact on those living and working in the local area, which is why we wanted to ensure the community were completely happy with the project.
“As we wanted to make sure the new build tied in with the older fire station, there were inevitably challenges that we didn’t anticipate along the way. However, most importantly, we needed to ensure we sourced the right materials, which were compatible with the existing building, both in terms of performance and appearance.
Selecting the right materials
“We wanted to work with natural materials, which would age well and ensure robust construction that has longevity and sustainability,” says Jennifer.
“We chose specific products, including handmade Danish bricks and handmade glazed bricks to give depth and texture to the new building. We wanted to ensure use mortar that had a texture and a grain to it, so it would work with the nuances of the bricks, as well as being a colour match.
“Finding the right colour mortar to match the pale Danish bricks was key. These bricks were handmade, so we needed the mortar that integrated with the historic Edwardian building to create a seamless whole.
“When planning the project, we recognised the importance of lime products, because of the material’s sturdiness and robustness. This means it doesn’t wear with structural movements and changes in the seasons.
“That’s why Lime Green was the perfect fit for the project. With an extensive colour range, the team was able to colour-match the mortar with the materials of the new building perfectly. The consistency between the samples Lime Green gave us and the final product delivered was incredible, which was important given the scrutiny by Westminster City Council over the project and the appearance of the new building.
“The flexibility of the products also helped us to minimise the amount of movement joints, as it accommodated movement in a much more forgiving way than other products, such as modern cement mortars.
“We really enjoyed working with the Lime Green team – they were easy to work with, responsive and very supportive of the project. As we couldn’t store a huge amount of supplies on site, Lime Green was very accommodating in delivering exactly what we needed, at the right time.
“The best part was that we were able to develop a solution with Lime Green that supported the original building’s beautiful aesthetic and historic character, with a new building that pays similar attention to detail.”
A sustainable, natural and beautiful finish
“People love the building, and neighbours even call it ‘the golden citadel’. It’s widely recognised in the local community for its high-quality, beautiful finish,” continues Jennifer.
“One of the Fire Station’s previous residents – who had moved out during construction – has moved back after the restoration works and loves the development. That was the icing on the cake for us, it really felt as though our vision had materialised – enhancing people’s experience of new buildings made with sustainable and natural materials that stand the test of time.
“The Westminster Fire Station development truly looks beautiful, and the quality of the natural and sustainable products used has a huge role to play in that. Lime Green’s product quality and customer service is outstanding. We’re already working with Lime Green on another project, and we can’t wait to see the finished result,” concludes Jennifer.
“It was a pleasure to see our Hydraulic Lime Mortar used on this new development project. We’ve loved working with Openstudio Architects on Westminster Fire Station, and we’re glad to be working with them on their next project,” comments Simon Ayres, co-founder and managing director, Lime Green Products.
For more information about the Westminster Fire Station project and the products used, visit Lime Green or call 01952 728 611.