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Written 31st July 2020

Project study number two

The Standard, London

Retrofit and Reuse

The new Standard Hotel located on Euston Road occupies a Brutalist-style building previously in use as the Camden Town Hall Annexe. The existing concrete structure has been refurbished and reused to deliver a low-carbon and contemporary, boutique hotel. Designed with Orms architects and interior designers Archer Humphreys and Shawn Hausman Design, the project is the first in a string of hotels by The Standard to be built in the UK and takes inspiration from vibrant mid-century aesthetics with the interior layouts arranged to compliment the undulating concrete structure.  

To inform our initial approach we undertook extensive archive research into the existing structure, unlocking the vast opportunities the building presented.

Working from detailed maps, photographs and drawings, we built a digital model to highlight the risks residing in the structure and confidently demonstrate the building’s potential for redevelopment into a hotel.

Structural Design

We then undertook a series of material tests on site to reveal the capacity of the structure, foundations and ground. Retaining the existing structure was critical to the commercial success of the building and our detailed knowledge of the structure helped to deliver maximum site density with minimal strengthening.

To increase the building area from 16,157m2 to 18,107m2, a new three-storey extension has been added to the structural frame. To support the additional load, new steel perimeter columns were installed through the lower floors, threaded like needles through the existing waffle slabs from the first-floor transfer slab. This allowed for over 30% additional load to be added to the existing structure with no strengthening to existing under-reamed piles and minimal strengthening to four internal columns. The extension is stabilised by new beam-column sway frames from the 9th – 11th floors and has been designed with five-metre-long, cranked steel cantilevers which enable column free corners and large, glazed façades: a defining feature of the completed building.

To deliver a slender and cantilevered concrete canopy at ground level, we worked closely with the contractor, concrete manufacturer and architect. The canopy was prefabricated in two separate panels and once on site was joined using an innovative bespoke post-tensioned connection system. The canopy was then installed using a slender, cruciform section stainless steel supporting structure.


The ambition for the project encompassed an extensive reuse of the building, coupled with exemplary low-carbon structural design. To optimise carbon levels and minimise material waste we undertook a Total Engineering approach, often our preferred method for retrofit and reuse projects. This holistic approach involves taking responsibility for each stage of work relating to the existing structure from enabling and temporary works through to permanent works. While reducing waste and maximising programme advantages,Total Engineering identifies the carbon costs associated with temporary works and allows for this to be reduced.

Throughout the project we took rigorous steps to reuse the existing fabric of the building. Working closely with the contractor, 94% of the primary structure was retained providing significant savings in programme and carbon emissions.

Calculating the embodied carbon of the completed building, using our in-house carbon counting tool, showed that at 121 kgCO2e/m2 the structure is less than half the RIBA 2030 target. This new chapter in the iconic structure’s life exemplifies the principles of true sustainability - research, remodel and repurpose.