Traditional Architecture Group
A Linked Society of the Royal Institute of British Architects
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Events and News

New Glass Roof Completed at the Art Workers' Guild


The two phase works to transform the central hub of the Grade II* Listed premises of the Art Workers’ Guild in Queen Square, Bloomsbury have just been completed. Phase 1 consisted of sensitively carving out space from the existing early 20th Century rear additions to add a ramp and disabled w.c.  linking with the main meeting hall to the rear that seats 100 people. It also removed railings and a light-well, which were then paved over, literally doubling the area of the courtyard space that sits between the Queen Anne building to the front and the Arts and Crafts meeting hall at the back. Phase 2 which was to install a structural cast iron and glass roof over this courtyard has now just been completed. This now makes the courtyard a dry all-weather space that maintains the character of its former external nature but can now be used as a break out space from the meeting hall, and itself be used for exhibition and craft demonstrations.

All the works were designed and overseen by the Honorary Architect to the Art Workers’ Guild: Simon Hurst RIBA.  Trained at the Prince of Wales’ Institute of Architecture, he was later awarded a Lethaby Scholarship from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. He has been director of his company, SCHD for 15 years and specialises in working with Listed Buildings and high end traditional residential work.


In obtaining Listed Building Consent for the works at the Art Workers’ Guild, the Conservation Officers report stated:

‘The proposed scheme is considered to be a thoughtful and well considered conservation-based scheme which seeks to sensitively adapt or enhance the existing building to improve access and the function of the institution. The scheme serves to preserve the historic fabric of the building as much as possible. As such it is considered that the scheme would preserve the historic interest of the building and also serve to preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area.’

Simon Hurst – Architect writes:

‘In keeping with the Guild’s general ethos, this has been very much a craft-orientated project.  Components have been made in ways that have existed for hundreds of years with very little manifestation of 20th century, let alone 21st century technologies; the cast iron ribs are all hand made from wooden patterns, and the pierced decorative profile of the arched beams has been carved by a Brother of the Guild. The glass louvres are each made from 8 layers of fused soda glass, thus capturing minute bubbles within the body of the glass, and are then hand finished.

The design is complementary to both the 1713 original building and the 1914 extension. The roof fits in and responds to the current architecture; the curve of the roof follows the 1914 arched stone parapet with the AWG crest at one end of the courtyard.

The detailing also ensures it appears to be an extension of the existing architectural language and looks timeless.  For example, the small profiled brackets that support the new roof and project from the walls of the existing buildings allude to the brackets that typically support first floor balconies on Georgian Regency terraced houses, and thus appear like an evolution of alterations from the Queen Anne building.’





























SImon Hurst