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A retrofit project transforms an iconic 19th century building into a modern office

The Drill Hall is hidden down a narrow lane in the London borough of Farringdon. This historic building dates to 1888 and was once a headquarter for the London Rifle Corporation during World War I. Today, The Drill Hall functions as a modern office space transformed by optimised daylight and natural ventilation.

A glass roof replacement as part of sustainable refurbishment design

The Drill Hall required the replacement of a leaking roof that once had a two-tier structure of slate and glass. The slate was destroyed by zeppelin bombs and never replaced, but the roof shape and infrastructure remained intact. Expansive refurbishment design plans by E2 Architecture + Interiors included preservation of the roof’s shape to protect the character of the building. Upon inspection by installer Roofglaze, it was agreed that the current single glazing roof system needed to be replaced, and the building retrofit to meet architectural sustainability goals that would answer future building legislation.

Roofglaze sought out a daylight solution partner that could provide a bespoke, lightweight glass roof system that would fit a complex roof structure and improve the comfort of occupants, whilst also remaining as much like the original rooflights as possible. The chosen rooflight would have to be robust enough to balance weight loads and hold its integrity. Solar shading would also be required to reduce existing glare that made occupants feel uncomfortable. After considering several daylighting partners, Roofglaze agreed with building owners that VELUX Commercial would be the preferred daylighting partner.

Bespoke Glazing Panels support a swift installation process

123 Glazing Panels were chosen to create a clean aesthetic with slim and shallow profiles able to deliver optimal daylight influx. Individual panels were assembled offsite to provide installers with the efficiency and speed they required to safely incorporate glazing onto a roof set in a challenging location surrounded by tall buildings. Thermal comfort would be enhanced through ventilation panels in the lower tier of the Glazing Panels step solution to provide air permeability.

Double glazing also came with a sun protection coating to provide additional solar shading and reduce glare. This has removed the need for cotton drapes previously used in hotter months to block out harsh light. A laminated panel that enhances safety in the event of an accident was added as part of a bespoke daylight solution that is shatter proof.

Retrofit design future proofs a commercial building

By the year 2030, government legislation will require all commercial buildings achieve an EPC rating of B. The installation of Glazing Panels as part of a holistic building refurbishment has increased The Drill Hall’s rating from E to B.

A new Glazing Panel rooflight solution means less reliance on artificial lighting and offers improved thermal comfort via natural ventilation.




Products used in project

1 x Glazing Panel Step Solution

Step Solutions (formerly Vitral A74)

Multiple rows of glazing panels connected for large daylight influx

Dual pitched glazing panels in steps with hipped gables Read more

Quantity of modules: 123 Glazing Panels

Project size: 185m² roof installation

Glazing: Double glazing

Step Solutions (formerly Vitral A74)

Multiple rows of glazing panels connected for large daylight influx

Dual pitched glazing panels in steps with hipped gables Read more

Robert Culley

Managing Director, Roofglaze

VELUX Glazing Panels are robust rooflights. Prefabricated glazing makes it easier and safer to handle and install. What we like about Glazing Panels is that they arrive onsite fully assembled, we trust the quality, shape, size, and specification of these daylight solutions.

Sam Cooper

Architect, E2 Architecture + Interiors

A retrofit presented the opportunity to improve building performance and lower energy consumption as part of a rooftop refurbishment. What we do now restoratively can work as part of a sustainable design strategy, and future proof a building to meet changes to government regulation for commercial building projects.

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