Belfast architecture practice to clad London tower block

Hamilton Architects are to carry out cladding work on Desmond House in Barnet, North London
Gareth McKeown

A BELFAST-headquartered architectural practice has secured a new contract to install replacement cladding on a nine-storey London tower block.

Hamilton Architects, who have offices in Belfast, Derry and London, have been appointed by Metropolitan Housing Trust to work on Desmond House in Barnet. The major project calls for a design service for the specification and installation of replacement cladding and the creation of a comprehensive fire strategy.

The deal comes as all major building owners in the UK are having to re-assess their building stock with a particular focus on fire safety, following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower. The 24-storey tower block in North Kensington, west London, went up in flames on June 14, claiming the lives of an estimated 80 people.

"No one wants to see what happened at Grenfell happen again. We see our role as playing an essential part in safeguarding and re-assuring the public," Hamilton Architects partner Paul Millar said.

"It's not a huge amount of work, but it's significant for us in terms of what it might lead to. If it's seen that we have a particular expertise then it could well be that we get more business from that direction. The market not just in London, but UK-wide is significant. We’re already working for some clients in Northern Ireland investigating buildings from a fire safety perspective. So there are buildings or they will be buildings in Northern Ireland that will need to be improved."

"For obvious reasons it is very significant in terms of improving the safety of buildings. We have a professional duty. We have a duty of care as architects to the public as do the building owners so we’re happy to help them fulfil those legal requirements. It’s important work that needs to be done and self-evidently needs to be done properly," Mr Millar added.

Founded in 1972, Hamilton Architects has grown to become one of Ireland's key architectural practices and is recognised as Ireland's premier sports stadia designer, previously working Kingspan Stadium and the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.

At present the firm is completing a social housing project for Ealing Council and is now on four major London frameworks. Looking to the future the practice hopes to break further into the London market.

"The short to medium term goal is to develop the work in London. We find we can be very competitive, because our overheads are lower and our salary costs are lower. we can certainly be very competitive on price compared to London-based prices," Mr Millar added.


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