• 2 December 2012


Waterman has historically been involved in some of the most interesting major refurbishment works in London.

This article features three refurbishment projects of a smaller, more intricate scale. Two of them, for the client Urban Hotel Group, are located in St John’s Square in Clerkenwell, notably the Zetter Warehouse and the Zetter Townhouse, and the third one on the northern fringe of the City of London in New Street, the Tapestry Building, for Westlin Management.

As the funding in the construction industry tries to establish its position, the potential costs and programme advantages of refurbishments are becoming more attractive. Factors like statutory listing and the presence of features that add character and value need to be considered, as well as whether a change of use might be more beneficial in optimising the asset value of the site for its long term future.

In an ever changing market, a minor refurbishment may be a stop gap for a short period of a few years, prior to a perceived upturn, with more substantial works justified for a longer term requirement.

Waterman has demonstrated that with a careful and disciplined approach to investigations and reuse of existing features improved value can be achieved to both create and enhance the clients’ expectations no matter how small or prestigious the project may be.

Tapestry Building, New Street EC2

Tapestry Building is an 18th century warehouse, originally built by the East India Company, and now converted into 14 exclusive urban apartments for Westlin Management. Located on New Street opposite Liverpool Street station, Tapestry Building offers heritage in the heart of the City, combining its striking industrial architecture with the high specification requirements of modern city living.

Built in 1771, Tapestry Building was the first of the Cutler Street warehouses to be constructed. Known in those days as the Old Bengal Warehouse, it was first used to store exotic imports from India and the Orient. The imposing façade of the building remains as impressive today as it was over 200 years ago, now concealing some of the most desired residential apartments the City has to offer.


The building was originally constructed for functionality, practicality and longevity. With its high walls of Georgian brick work, regularly punctuated by a multitude of stark paned windows and industrial period features, Tapestry Building retains its original sense of purpose as a working structure. Exposed timber beams and cast iron columns bring character and heritage to each apartment for an authentic interior style that is impossible to equal with contemporary accommodation.

Waterman carried out intricate renovation and refurbishment works to transform the warehouse into the high-end luxury apartments. Works included beam strengthening, installation of ties for robustness and the insertion of mezzanines, lifts and staircases to satisfy modern access requirements. In addition, foundations were enhanced using mini-piles to control settlement under the new loading criteria.

Project Director, John Towers commented: ‘‘The existing building threw up a few technical challenges as the scheduled investigations and exposure of the building commenced. These were all overcome by our skilled and dedicated team who are proud to be associated with such an impressive transformation with a lot of our new details, and other historic ones, left visible in the completed apartment.’’

Zetter Warehouse and Zetter Townhouse

The Zetter is the creation of the Urban Hotel Group who purchased an old Victorian warehouse building in the heart of Clerkenwell, the former home of Zetter Pools, embarking upon a substantial renovation project with a change of use to a hotel.

Waterman was commissioned to convert the 5 storey old Victorian warehouse into a 6 storey, 59 room boutique hotel and restaurant. The building was subject to extensive external and internal alterations in order to introduce a new atrium and to satisfy the requirements of the change of use. Moreover, the historic structure did not meet current disproportionate collapse requirements and bespoke details were conceived by Waterman in order to bring the building up to modern standards. The integration of these features has worked well amongst the unique internal materials.


Praised by the national press, The Zetter, upon opening won the Architectural Award for Best New Hotel, the European Innovation Award at the European Hotel Design Awards and was also voted one of the world’s ‘50 coolest hotels’.

Successively, the Zetter branched out with the transformation of two townhouses across the cobbles of St John’s Square, which accommodates a 13 bedroom Georgian hostelry and cocktail lounge.

The Zetter Townhouse boasts two spectacular suites, 11 bedrooms, a games room and private dining rooms catered by Bruno Loubet (whose bistro sits across the street in the Zetter Warehouse). Each room is completely unique, featuring bold shades of heritage colours and eclectic antique pieces and was awarded London Hotel of the year 2012 by The Good Hotel Guide as well as World’s Best new Bar.

Project Director, John Towers commented: ‘‘Waterman’s input into the schemes has been acknowledged and praised by our client and has brought with it a strong feeling of satisfaction and achievement with a unique and rather eccentric end result, but with almost all of the structural solutions hidden from view.’’

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