The OWO Hotel by Raffles

We were initially approached by EPR Architects, who were appointed as the lead project architect, to assist with scheduling the ironmongery for the entire project (which had 2 primary areas: ‘Residential’ and the ‘Hotel’ including a spa), with over 5,300 doors & 1,000 windows, spread across 19 separate packages.

Co-ordination was vital to the success of this project. We liaised with a staggering 37 different consultants including four separately appointed interior designers for the numerous areas across the entire project, spanning a 6-year period, ensuring suitability and compliance of the ironmongery design intent throughout.

This co-ordination included our own supply chain, predominantly UK based, but also further extended to the various door manufacturers appointed to the project who we worked closely with to ensure the ironmongery proposed was suitable and compatible for the vast amount of differing door types and designs.

The restoration of such an iconic landmark required a fully co-ordinated range of ironmongery suitably performance and fire tested to meet the requirements of the existing and new doors throughout the development.

With a total number of different product types supplied in the hundreds, the number of differing bespoke products designed and manufactured was well into double figures ranging from lever handles, pull handles and other door trim items to window and espagnolette handles and other general accessories.

Primarily because of the Covid-19 outbreak, there was a client request for a protective coating to be applied to the common area fittings including the outside of the hotel bedroom doors, that are handled in order to protect the guests from ongoing and future infectious diseases.

We applied a Nanotech coating which is a titanium oxide that exhibits strong oxidative properties capable of decomposing harmful organic compounds, killing bacteria as well as eliminating odours when exposed to light.

In addition to the ironmongery, we also supplied, installed and commissioned over 50 automatic door operators throughout with push button and key switch activation based on the client’s requirements. Instead of finger protection devices running vertically for the majority of the door heights, we specified ‘flat scan’ 3D laser safety sensors – The high-resolution volumetric laser curtain detects fingers and bodies in the entire detection area, allowing perfect safety of the hinge zone with coverage of the leading edge to safeguard this part of the door too.

These were all installed by our ADSA (Automatic Door Suppliers Association) trained engineers in accordance with BSEN16005.

As well as the obvious door furniture components, we also applied the protective ‘Nanotech’ coating to the push to exit buttons and key switches for the auto door operators.

Summary of key products:

  • High performance butt hinges in differing sizes for the different door weights and thicknesses
  • Bespoke hinges and decorative finials to match the design of existing lift-off hinges with finials
  • Bespoke lever handle design with differing roses for the internal locks and latches and an especially adapted version for working with the entrance door access control system
  • Bespoke security turn for the lock to the inside of the bedroom entrance doors
  • Bespoke ornate drop ring handles on ‘T’ shape backplates to speciality areas
  • Split-finish furniture to the bathroom doors: chrome inside, antique brass outside
  • Bespoke strike plates to overcome door/frame thicknesses and decorative specialist frame detailing
  • Bespoke, heritage pattern engraved push plates
  • Corridor doors held-open to align with the wall detail and form part of the wall
  • ‘Terrazo pan’ floor spring cover trays, housing a carpet tile for continuous flooring coordination
  • Door coordinators to ensure the correct closing sequence on rebated double doors
  • Some bespoke floor spring shoes, to match existing, with some adapted to suit the existing springs’ spindle connector
  • Bespoke pull handles and inset box pulls for the spa area doors, aligning with the slatted design of the doors
  • Art Deco theme for the spa
  • Bespoke pull handles, plates and centre door knobs from existing patterns for the external façade doors
  • Casement and window furniture, including window espagnolette locks with numerous differing handle heights
  • Casement fasteners, sash lifts, sash stops and sash screws also provided
  • Bespoke ‘knock-in’ ferrules for the sash screws
  • Hotel bedroom joinery case goods such as wardrobe rails, limiting stays, cupboard knobs, bespoke cranked handles and umbrella racks, wardrobe light plates and leather handles

Project Background and Information

The Old War Office is an iconic Grade II* listed London landmark within the heart of Whitehall which has been sensitively restored over an 8-year period (2015-2023) to a 5* Hotel and luxury residences.

The site is steeped in history with various prime ministers and senior British political figures having been based in the building, including Winston Churchill (used as a base to command forces during WW2), David Lloyd George, Herbert Asquith and Lord Kitchener.

The office was also the workplace of Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond series, and it is thought that Fleming came up with the idea for Bond during his time at the office.

In a fitting tribute to Bond’s creator, The OWO building has been featured in a grand total of five James Bond films – more than any other venue, with one of the bars within The OWO displaying a full-size replica of the iconic, and synonymous to Bond, Aston Martin DB5.

The former 1,100 room building has been converted to a 5* 120-bedroom luxury Hotel and 85 super-prime residences including twelve restaurants & bars, spa, amenities, fitness studios, treatment suites, 16-seat cinema, games room and a 20-metre swimming pool at a cost of over £1 billion!

Monumental is the only adjective to describe an undertaking that transforms 580,000 sq ft of former government offices into 750,000 sq ft of luxury residences and some of the most expensive hotel suites in Europe!

Given the number and variety of architects door designs, sizes, construction and ironmongery requirements, every door type was outside of the door manufacturer’s standard test scope, so each type was independently fire tested (over 50 in total) at a cost of circa £500,000! We supplied over £100,000 of sacrificial ironmongery to be burnt as part of each test with over £1,200,000 worth of door leaves tested and burnt during the course of the project.

As with the hotel, brass was used as the base material of the trim furniture with a mixture of burnished bronze and antique brass finishes chosen to develop a natural patina over the course of time where possible.

The lever furniture was bespoke manufactured based on an Art Deco design concept with stepped detailing to the tapered neck and face of the lever handle grip with a matching step to the rosette. Ancillary items such as escutcheons & bathroom turn/releases were also produced, consistent with the stepped detail.

For the entrance doors, bespoke centre door knobs and bell pushes were produced and for the sliding pocket door systems that were used in ‘latch’ and ‘bathroom’ scenarios, we manufactured bespoke ‘plain’ and ‘bathroom’ flush pulls, all machined with the stepped detail design to compliment the trim furniture.

This design followed on to the custom floor door stops which had the stepped detail machined into the top surface area.

Even the bespoke casement lever handles that were produced to operate the espagnolettes, some with a euro-profile cylinder cut-out at the correct ‘centres’, had the stepped design detail to the backplate to coordinate with the door ironmongery.

All of this and the relevant corresponding sash lifts, fasteners, stops and screws were all finished in the burnished bronze finish to stay in keeping with the aesthetic theme.

However, a further challenge was with regards to other products produced from alternative materials that were required to be specially refinished to match as close as possible to the burnished bronze finish. Items such as the mortice electric locks, automatic door operator covers and arms, anza bolts, ‘push to exit’ buttons and key switches were all successfully re-finished, with the buttons and key switches being done so prior to the application of the Nanotech protective coating.

For the residential communal areas, the ironmongery specified was also mainly in the Burnished Bronze finish but with some products also in the Antique Brass finish to be in keeping with, but also different enough to provide a contrast against the differing door veneers and interior design.

Within these areas in particular, are bespoke pull handles specifically designed for this project that were manufactured in different lengths and different styles for the different types of doors so again, consideration had to be given to ensure the correct handles were supplied for the correct door designs.

Sustainability was a key factor for this project and the client placed significant emphasis on the use of British products where possible, so this tied in nicely with our collaboration with Beardmore, who’s own foundry is located less than 70 miles from site. This, coupled with our conscious effort of sourcing the majority of the performance hardware products from other manufacturers in the UK, reduced transport emissions and mitigated the project’s carbon footprint as part of the life cycle assessment.

As the majority of the trim hardware was produced from Brass, the client requested we source the raw material from the UK. However, sadly, there are no Brass mills remaining within the UK, so this was sourced from Europe rather than further afield, again minimising the carbon footprint.

In terms of the life cycle of the building, lengthy product guarantees were also fundamentally important, so we supplied butt and concealed hinges that are maintenance-free and backed by a 32-year performance guarantee with the door closers and lock cases supported by a 25-year performance guarantee.

There were also certain items within the specification that were stripped down and PVD finished to ensure the surface finish was as hard-wearing and durable as possible, in particular the leading edge pulls to the sliding doors with the face of this impacting on the timber closing jamb. These were ‘colour matched’ to the Burnished Bronze.

We drew on our vast supply chain and ensured that all product re-finishing was undertaken within the UK.

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