Custom House - Middlesbrough

The Project

Pilkington Planar™ has been used to transform a Grade II Listed building into a state of the art youth centre in Middlesbrough. Prior to renovation the Georgian building, last used in 2001, was in a virtually derelict state. Pilkington Planar™ and various types of Pilkington glass, have since helped create a stimulating contemporary environment for young people of the area.

Originally built in 1836, Custom House is now a Myplace youth facility in the St Hilda's area of Middlesbrough. As such, it provides a performance space and dance hall, café, chill-out space and crèche for the local community. Pilkington Planar™ and various types of Pilkington glazing were specified, as a part of a wider £4.2m revamp, to create an exciting visual contrast to the existing imposing Georgian construction; reflecting the transition between old and new represented in the building.

As the façade of the entrance atrium is South West facing, solar gain was a major consideration during the building design stage. Its positioning meant that as the entrance received a lot of direct sunlight, it was a challenge to prevent it from overheating during the summer months. The answer was the combined use of Pilkington Planar™ Sun 70/40 and Pilkington Optifloat™ solar control glass. The specification of this type of glass ensures a maximum amount of sunlight can pass through the façade whilst radiating and reflecting away a large degree of the sun's heat. Both panes of glass were then toughened and heat soak tested, to provide extra strength and safety.

Pilkington Optifloat™ and Pilkington K Glass™ were specified in combination as the glazing choice for the side feature of the building, where solar gain was far less of an issue. But given the purpose of the building and high expected footfall, the glass was again toughened and heat soak tested.

Pilkington Planar™ was finally selected as the structural system, to keep the glazing in place. Opting for Pilkington Planar™ enabled the architects to create a striking, aesthetically impressive facade and make the most of natural light. As a structural glazing system it provides a flush glass surface by utilising stainless steel fittings. These are housed in countersunk holes, to fix the glass facade back to the structure. Facades can be created on any plane and give architects freedom to use it on even the most demanding of projects, such as listed properties and enclosed spaces. The final appearance is one of an uninterrupted glass facade. Glass fins were then used to support the façades across the whole building, to maintain the seamless look and avoid obstruction of views out of the building.

Wendy Kelly, Myplace Strategic and External Funding Manager, explains: “Custom House is a truly significant historic building. It is therefore fantastic that we have been able to put the space to use for the benefit of the local community. The addition of a glass entrance atrium and side feature has greatly enhanced the already imposing building and certainly added a 'wow factor' to the Georgian treasure.”
The team that completed the transformation were led by Architect Bernard Griffin from Middlesbrough County Council and installer O.J. Taffinder Ltd. Mike Davidson, Sales & Design Engineer at Pilkington Architectural worked closely with this project team: “It’s never easy to design a modern structure that compliments the existing building when it is Grade II listed. Specifying Pilkington Planar™ in this project has really made this possible. The result is a modern, transparent and efficient structure that sits at the heart of the community.”

A range of services for young people are now on offer in Custom House, including a health centre, and volunteering, learning and work advice, with a Connexions office based in the building.

Glass Specification
Entrance atrium:
• Pilkington Planar™ glazing system, supported by 19mm toughened and heat soak tested glass fins and stainless steel Planar™ 905J fittings
• Insulated Glass Units (IGU) incorporating 12mm Pilkington Planar™ Sun 70/40 coated outer glass, a 16mm Air Space and 6mm Pilkington Optifloat™ inner glass. Both panes were toughened and heat soak tested
Side feature:
• Pilkington Planar™ glazing system, supported by 19mm toughened and heat soak tested glass fins and stainless steel Pilkington Planar™ 905J fittings
• Insulated Glass Units (IGU) incorporating 12mm Pilkington Optifloat™ outer glass – 16mm air space – 6mm Pilkington K Glass™ inner glass.  Both panes were toughened and heat soak tested

For more information visit

  Project ReferenceUK0101_ProRef
  View Project Location Map
Project Details
Surface Area
231 sq metres
Opening Date
Building Type
  • Leisure
  • Education
My Place
About the Architect/Installer
Bernard Griffin Middlesbrough Council
O.J. Taffinder Ltd
Benefit Led Categories
  • Glass Systems