55-91 Knightsbridge, London

The Project

Project: Knightsbridge Gate, 55-91 Knightsbridge
Client: APML Estate
Main contractor: Sir Robert McAlpine
Architects: Dixon Jones Architects (lead), Richard Griffiths Architects (conservation including shopfronts design) and MSMR Architects (residential interior design)
Installer: Atlantic Contracts (shopfront design and installation), Richard Gent (glazier)

In the world of retail, a Knightsbridge address is about as desirable as it gets, which is why so many brands choose to locate their flagship stores on the famed central-London street.

For the designers of Knightsbridge Gate, a landmark mixed-use development that occupies an entire block of the street, providing the best possible shopfronts for the retailers that will occupy the scheme’s ground floor was a top priority. So, choosing the right glazing was paramount.

While most of the building has been newly constructed, the 120-metre-long Edwardian street-facing façade has been retained, along with its 17 glazed shopfronts. The glazing for each of the frontages is held in place by decorative oak frames that have been carefully re-created according to the original design.

Letting window displays shine

To ensure that the units look their best, the designer selected Pilkington OptiView™ Protect OW anti-reflective glass for the street-level glazing.

Coatings on the outer faces of the laminated glass reduce its reflectivity to around 2%, compared with around 8% for standard, un-coated glass. The result is that views into the shopfronts are almost entirely un-interrupted by reflections, even on bright days, ensuring that retailers’ window displays are shown off to the best effect.

To give further clarity, the glass is Pilkington Optiwhite™ low-iron glass that is almost entirely free from colouration.

Rachel Scannell at APML Estate said: “The aim with the retail units at Knightsbridge Gate was to create spaces that the most prestigious brands in the world would be happy to choose in order to display their offerings. The glazing is, of course, a key part of this.

“The anti-reflective glass from Pilkington UK is often used by galleries and museums to display priceless artworks and artifacts without compromising on detail, so the retailers that call Knightsbridge Gate home will enjoy the same benefits.”

Crafted to last

Adding to the aesthetic appeal of the glazing is the complex shape of the panes that make it up, including a large, curved edge at the top of the central pane in each shopfront. Pilkington UK engineers worked closely with the carpenters to precision cut each pane of glass to ensure a perfect fit.

The shop front windows are as tough as they are beautiful as they consist of two panes of glass laminated together with a strong polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer. This ensures the glazing can stand up to all the forces that may be thrown at it, from wind-loading, to any attempts to smash the glass.

Due to the anti-reflective coating being applied at a high temperature when the glass was being made, it is highly scratch-resistant, ensuring its clean and clear appearance will last for many years to come.

Peter Maj, business development manager at Pilkington United Kingdom Limited, part of the NSG Group, said: “By selecting Pilkington OptiView™ for this project, the designers have demonstrated that it is the product of choice for retail applications where the glazing will be under the utmost scrutiny and needs to look its best.”

Along with the shop-fronts, Pilkington UK also supplied 300 m² of Pilkington Optiphon™ OW acoustic glass, which has been used throughout the offices and apartments on the upper five floors of the building to provide noise-reducing secondary glazing.

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Project Details
Surface Area
480 m²
55-91 Knightsbridge, London. SW1X 8RH
Building Type
  • Residential / Domestic
  • Commercial
APML Estate
About the Architect/Installer
Dixon Jones Architects, Richard Griffiths Architects, and MSMR Architects
Atlantic Contracts, and Richard Gent
Benefit Led Categories
  • Noise Control
  • Safety Security
  • Special Applications