TUC Congress House
Hugh Broughton Architects have completed a major conservation project at Congress House, the TUC’s headquarters in central London.
The principal component of the project is the installation of a high level 32m x 21m steel and ETFE canopy spanning over the courtyard of Grade II*listed Congress House, the TUC’s headquarters in central London, built in the 1950s to a design by David du R Aberdeen. The canopy not only solves a long-term problem of water leaking into the conference hall below, but has also revealed the striking hexagonal glazed coffered conference hall roof, hidden from view since the 1990’s; protected Sir Jacob Epstein’s seminal sculpture ‘The Group’; allowed restoration of glazed facades to the Council Chamber; and brought neglected terraces back into use. Hugh Broughton Architects have been “house” architects to the TUC since the late 1990s.
The design of the ETFE roof was developed by Hugh Broughton Architects in collaboration with Price and Myers and Vectorfoiltec, UK- based specialists in the installation of ETFE roofs. The top of the Memorial Wall is one storey higher than the south, east and north sides of the courtyard. The height of the roof is therefore designed to preserve the full visible height of the Memorial Wall. The additional storey around the south, east and north sides has been left open to maintain natural ventilation to offices and allow for smoke evacuation in case of a fire.
As well as reinstating the original roof over the conference hall, the installation of the high level ETFE canopy has also enabled a series of additional measures, which help to reinstate the clarity of Aberdeen’s design:
• The ETFE has been treated with a microdot pattern, which reduces heat gain whilst maintaining light levels. This allowed removal of a black metal mesh, which had been installed over the timber framed windows of the Council Chamber in the refurbishment designed by Cedric Price in the 1980s. Removal has reinstated transparency to this important space, as originally intended by David Aberdeen.
• High-level balconies on the north and south sides of the courtyard are now covered by the new canopy and provide a pleasant outdoor space. These balconies have been refurbished with Yorkstone paving, lighting and new painted metal balustrades.
• Constant exposure to the London weather, dirt and grime had caused the Epstein stone sculpture to become discoloured. The sculpture has now been cleaned and the canopy will protect it from further degradation.
• The Memorial Wall has been cleaned and repaired. This included repairs to the mosaic tiles and the first ever cleaning of the Pyrex glass rod screens which mask the lightwells of the neighbouring Bloomsbury Hotel, designed by
Sir Edwyn Lutyens.