The Art Of Steel At Royal Academy

Royal Academy of Arts

ASWS, the steel window repair specialist, has shown its art in ensuring a large composite replica window not only matched the original but could also operate in a manner to facilitate safe cleaning.

The job was given to Associated Steel Window Services by London architects, Barr Gazetas as part of alterations to a prominent grade II listed building – the Royal Academy of Arts’ new Pace Gallery. 

The large composite bay consisting of a pair of semi-headed frames with a separating fixed infil frames, measuring 2136mm wide by 2430mm high. Dated from the late 19th century they were too badly corroded to repair.

ASWS removed them with minimal damage to the stone reveals and saved the ironmongery for reuse. The company’s craftsmen utilised W20 profiles to fabricate the new frames, with odd-leg sections and JB mullions selected to help maintain an authentic appearance.

The team also created new steel sills to raise the level of the window slightly and utilised parliament hinges to enable the opening lights to clear the ornate stone columns, positioned just outside of the main building line.


 “Despite this being just one composite bay, there was an extensive design process – including our preparation of detailed drawings and even making a timber mock-up of the frames – in order for permission to be gained.”

– Kris Bennell 

Contracts Director, ASWS


When I’m cleaning windows

“The original windows had not been made from standard steel sections so matching them was challenging,” adds ASWS Bennell. “In addition, the presence of the two very decorative columns outside made it difficult when it came to cleaning so we had to ensure we used the correct hinges to create sufficient space for window cleaners to reach out safely.”


Single glazed

“The replacement windows were single glazed with 6mm laminated glass, avoiding the slightly distorted reflections characteristic of double glazing. The frames were polyester powder coated in the factory, before being resprayed internally after fitting to achieve the dual colour required inside and out.



ASWS installed a mastic seal right around the new frames before handing the job back to the main contractor to complete the plastering and any masonry work required. The installation was completed ahead of the Pace Gallery’s final fit-out. Following the official opening, the space has been used for several significant exhibitions of contemporary art.

Picture: The Royal Academy of Arts, with its new steel windows, recently won a RIBA London Award.


Article written by Cathryn Ellis
16th December 2021


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