Great Eastern Hotel

Architect The Manser Practice; Interiors: Conran

Lighting consultant DPA Lighting Consultants/Maurice Brill Client Great Eastern Hotel

The Great Eastern Hotel has had a somewhat chequered history from its early promise as one of London's great railway hotels at the end of the nineteenth century, similar to those at St. Pancras, Paddington or Euston. Completed in 1884 and extended in 1899— 1901, it had suffered serious dereliction and neglect.

Its close connection to Liverpool Street station had not served it well, with a carriageway to serve the station below severing the building and with railway platforms below forcing the kitchens to be located at the fourth floor level, it was far from being ideal.

The redevelopment of the hotel by the Manser Practice, with interiors by Conran is an extraordinary achievement, in which the hotel now has all the advantages of modern servicing together with the calm interiors of a bygone age. It is of interest that the Manser Practice was responsible for the first really modern hotel built in this country, at Heathrow Terminal 4 (see Case Study 32 in Lighting Modern Buildings) and that in this reconstruction project they have brought all the expertise of creating beautiful daylit spaces learnt from the new.

The success of the daylighting design can be boiled down to three main areas: the Lift

Lobby and Atrium, the Main Dining room, and the Bedrooms .

The lift lobby and atrium

A 'borehole' of light, a circular lightwell, penetrates the ceiling of the entrance lobby, rising through the full height of the building. This entrance lobby leads to the main atrium formed by extending two existing light wells, which rise throughout the building, the glazed roof of which provides daylight to adjacent bedrooms in addition to funnelling light below.

A decision was made to acid etch the under-surface of the glass, not only to reduce glare but to provide a continually changing pattern of reflections to the atrium walls; and to add to the appearance at night by means of 12 volt spots concealed in the sills of the bedroom windows, lighting upwards to the roof. The spots add a starlight appearance to the space at night.

The main dining room

By developing a lightwell in the older 1884 part of the building, this allowed a daylight rooflight to be introduced into the building at a position central to the main restaurant. The rooflight is a flamboyant design which fits well with the hotel's antecedents.

Whilst clearly the amount of daylight available is insufficient for everyday restaurant use, it does mean that during the day the room has an impression of being lit by natural light even on dull days, an important aspect particularly at breakfast, whilst on bright days the amount of natural light is significant.

The bedrooms

The number of bedrooms was increased from 140 to 270, making the whole project viable.

By stripping off the existing roof and mansard floor, it enabled this to be replaced by a new copper mansard, containing two to three floors. Each of the rooms were given a quality or character, particular to the hotel period, whilst in some cases balconies were provided.

Daylight was of the essence, to provide an atmosphere very different from the standard London hotel, where possible with views out towards London. It is hard to know whether the guests will be impressed by this, but it must have some impact on the question of energy control, asubject which may have more meaning in the future. It is important to know that daylight has informed the design.

First floor plan
The Manser Practice
Atrium with view up to glazed ceiling/night

Roof and window detail

Typical bedroom

Justin De Syllas, Avanti Architects Justin de Syllas

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