Sheffield specialist engineering firm SCX Special Projects supplied the stencilled façade and designed, built and installed the mechanism that allows the two huge decorative portcullis panels to open or close in just 15 seconds.
SCX worked with Max Architects and Kier Construction as part of a regeneration project for Royal London Asset Management at 25 Wilton Road, opposite London Victoria Station.
The two panels on the building’s front elevation are predominantly polished stainless steel and have a stencil-like design by artist Chloe Steele.
SCX Special Projects supplied the panels, cut to the artist’s design using high pressure water jets. They are 15mm thick, measure three metres high by two metres wide, and weigh more than 800 kg each.
SCX says that the engineering challenge was not just the mechanical system but also the electricals, ensuring safety controls.
Using hand-power alone, the panels can be ratcheted up or down in just 15 seconds, held by mechanical locks whilst in the raised position. The panels function as security shutters when lowered, and when raised they remain in full view above the entrance.
SCX’s design integrates into a slim metal framework, while the counterweight mechanism is visible in the building’s foyer, behind polycarbonate panels.
Max Titchmarsh, founder of Max Architects, said: “The Portico at the main entrance to this significant development was crucial to creating a buffer from the busy street and delivering the impact the entrance required. The design of the portcullis doors exposes the mechanism and frames the artwork in way which adds real interest to the principal interest. It is unique and we’re very pleased with the result.”
Kier Construction’s senior quantity surveyor, Martin Melges, said: “The articulated panels add both form and function to the front elevation of the building. SCX’s mastery over moving structures combines effortlessly with Chloe’s striking design to make the steel doors look as graceful as the architect intended.”
SCX Special Projects lead engineer Danny Pickard added: “We are seeing a trend towards more moving structures in architecture. It’s a new route for architects to take – no longer do buildings have to be rigid and static. The façade looks fantastic, and it was a pleasure to work with everyone involved.”