The former Carreras Cigarette Factory sits in Mornington Crescent in Camden, London, UK. Even to an undiscerning eye, the building looks dramatic, even incongruous. Greater London House, as it is now known, is a striking example of the 20th century, Egyptian Revival architecture that was prevalent in the 1920s. The building was inspired by Howard Carter’s 1922 discovery of Tutankhamen’s burial chamber. The exterior mixes modernity with antiquity: Egyptian imagery and motifs adorn the giant pillars and two striking cats, inspired by the goddess Bastet, guard the entrance. Inside, ASOS and the British Heart Foundation rent state-of-the-art office spaces.
Lazari Investments hired rope-access specialist CAN, an RSK company, to redecorate the 180-m-long, six-storey high, ornately detailed front façade of the building. The two flank elevations of the Art Deco building were relatively straightforward to access using standard abseiling techniques. The real difficulty lay in accessing the central section of the façade, where an ornate cornice detail creates a 1.5-m overhang from the main façade and the 12 ornately painted columns and associated scroll work below.
To reach the ‘inaccessible’ areas such as the cornice and the central façade, CAN designed and fabricated a bespoke adaptation of the CAN-Span modular working platform. Short sections of this were attached with specially designed clips that enabled CAN technicians to gain suitable work positioning and thus undertake the redecoration of the overhanging cornice. This innovative solution also enabled the site team to access the front elevation and the columns beneath the cornice detail using rope access techniques. Without incident and with minimal impact on the day-to-day operation of the building, the CAN site team redecorated the entire front façade over the four-month project duration.
The client was so impressed with redecoration of the front façade that CAN was asked to return the following year to redecorate the remaining exterior envelope of this iconic building.