Glazing Work Starts on Site at the Old Reading Room in Brighton

IQ has been specified to provide bespoke glazing for this listed building renovation of The Old Reading Room in Brighton. 

The Old Reading Rooms is a Grade II listed building designed in the 1820s by William Kendall, the architect of Madeira Drive and the Esplanade. At the start of May 2021, it was advertised as a ‘Retail/Leisure Space with Significant Local Heritage’ for sale before it was purchased and put forward for a regeneration and refurbishment project. The Reading Room has been used as a committee room and a potting shed, but in recent years its main use has been as an unofficial homeless shelter. 

The old reading room sits between Naturist beach and the prolific Sussex square belonging to the Kemp Town Estate. The rear elevation is flush with the Marine Parade roadway and is impossible to discern from the street that a cavernous building lies below apart from two stone plinths that rise from the sea-facing wall. Below the street, facing the sea, the Old Reading Room sits across two stories, built into the sea wall.  

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“The council is looking for a tenant that’s going to be in keeping with the heritage of the site.” 

IQ have been working with the architects on this listed building renovation since July 2020, assisting with the glazing specification and detailing of such an important heritage project.  

The structure is best viewed from Madeira Drive which sits lower along the sea front. From here the large Victorian structure is easy to see with its white pillars and archway doors. The design – created in conjunction with the architects and IQ – is to fill in these large apertures with frameless glazing; ensuring the design and appearance of the building is maintained whilst enclosing the interior space.  

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Three slim-framed sliding pocket doors have been selected for this project to maintain a subtle design which is popular with historic Listed buildings, the flush threshold detail of the slim sliding doors allows for a smooth transition between indoors and out. When the doors are closed the ultra-slim 21mm sightlines provide the interior space with a strong connection to nature and offer clear panoramic views of the breath-taking surroundings. 

 Steel framed glazing is also included in the colonnades specified to maintain a traditional design while having high-performance glazing with excellent thermal performance. In conjunction with the shaped steel window and door configurations, aluminium glazing systems were specified in a pocket door configuration to create a completely open aperture when open and look frameless when closed.  

“Community and sustainability are very important, but so is commercial viability, and trying to make sure they are going to be able to trade beyond the summer months, with an offering for winter when it’s bit wet and windy.” 

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Any property within 5 miles of a seafront is classed as being in a marine environment, due to the location of The Old Reading room there needed a certain specification as buildings in this area are in harsh environments with higher levels of moisture and salt and debris being swept in from the sea. Due to these factors, the glazing package has specialist glass technologies in order to reduce the effects of the water and air.  

The design work has now been completed and materials ordered to begin glazing installation on site imminently.  

To speak to us about which glazing systems are right for your listed building project, get in touch with the team today.  

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Chloe Thompson

After completing her undergrad degree in Interior design, Chloe decided to join the architectural glazing industry and now works on social media strategies, writes content and manages the day to day marketing for IQ's commercial division.

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