Spiral UK create a six storey helical staircase in the heart of London


Spiral UK were pleased to create an incredible helical staircase through the centre of a central London building, built to look like it was part of the original structure but standing out for its subtle detailing and strong form.

The Grade I Listed building at 21 St James’ Square was the work of The Ritz designers, Mewes & Davies, in the 1930s, who mirrored number 20 next door, emulating the work of esteemed British architect, Robert Adam, from the 1770s. In 2018 it went through a substantial and thorough redevelopment to become an exclusive and opulent office building.

A study in luxury, the bespoke interior has a stylish, timeless elegance celebrating its historical significance and highlighting opulence and exclusivity. The fit out could not have been any higher in specification and the result is perfection. In the middle of this we installed our helical feat of engineering for private equity firm, Cinven, who made the upper six floors their headquarters. Property agents, Allsop, said of the fit out:

“21 St. James’s Square has been designed to create a striking arrival experience… encompassing contemporary styling that emphasises the exceptional period design. The offices have been completed to a high specification, with luxurious interior finishes… sought to exceed the expectations of modern occupiers to create light, well configured space, whilst being sympathetic towards the building’s classical, regal architecture.”

One of the most expensive postcodes in the UK, the previous inhabitant list reads as a ‘who’s who’ of British history, with even the Queen Mother of Elizabeth II residing there from 1906 to 1920.

That is why Spiral UK were honoured to be contracted for the feature staircase that winds its way up through the centre of the old building. A stair of this height is ambitious in itself, but this design was helical in nature, bringing with it a host of engineering and fabrication challenges. Helical stairs appear to be defying gravity as they arc through a space and cause tension points where they tether to a structure.

This particular design allowed for hidden support in the surrounding wall, the mild steel structure cantilevering out leaving an atrium space down the centre of the stair, adding drama and wow factor. Gazing up from the ground floor, the dark balustrading contrasts with the white plaster work, accentuating the shape as it spirals upwards. The outer handrail is underlit by LED lighting cleverly concealed within the timber, mirroring the strip-lighting that curves around the edge of the soffits and reflecting off the brass nosing strips set into the vein cut Silk Georgette stone of the treads.

It is no-expense-spared details such as these that make for such a polished finish, where these contemporary stairs look like they have always been a part of the fabric of the building yet manage to integrate modern features.

Overall, we are very proud of the outcome and pleased to have been a part of the on-going history of this iconic building.

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