The former Carreras cigarette factory sits in Mornington Crescent in Camden, London; even to an undiscerning eye, the building looks out of place. Greater London House, as it is known, is a striking example of early 20th-century Egyptian revival architecture that was prevalent in the 1960s and 1990s. The exterior of the building mixes modern 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 specialists from CAN, and RSK company, to look at ways to redecorate the exterior of the building. The two flank elevations of the art deco building were straightforward to access using abseiling techniques. The real difficulties lay in accessing the central section, where an ornate cornice detail creates a 1.5-m overhang.
To access the hard-to-reach areas, the team designed and fabricated an adaptation to an access system, CAN-Span. Short sections of the device were attached to the building with specially designed clips, which provided secure work positioning to the underside of the overhanging cornice. The innovative solution also allowed specialists to reach the front elevation and columns beneath. Without incident or delay, the team accessed and redecorated the entire façade.