Going from Empty to Extravagance

“The Ned” has a lock on 1930s design

Set in the former Midland Bank building in the heart of the City of London, The Ned was built in 1924. The 11-storey, Grade I-listed heritage building had been closed to the public since 2007, but in 2012 Soho House & Co and the Sydell Group formed a transatlantic partnership to convert the building into one of London’s newest hotels.

The space includes 252 bedrooms channeling 1920s and 1930s design, a range of men’s and women’s grooming services and ‘Ned’s Club’, a social and fitness club, where members have access to a rooftop pool, gym, spa, hammam and late night lounge bar in the bank’s former vault.

Eight restaurants sit among The Ned’s historic 3,000 sq m former banking hall. Each of the restaurants has its own distinct space, separated by 92 verdite columns and rows of walnut banking counters.

The original architect was Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens, considered one of the greatest British architects of the twentieth century. The Ned pays homage to his work, which earned him an Order of Merit, the title of Knight Commander in the Order of the Indian Empire, and a knighthood from King George V.

As a Grade I-listed building, The Ned was afforded the highest level of protection for a building in the UK. This created a challenge to the engineering services design, which NDY embraced. The Mechanical, Electrical & Public Health (MEPH) solutions were designed with careful planning of plant areas and service routes for heating, cooling, electrical, fire, and public health services, cables, data lines and ventilation services.

Any alteration to the building features and finishes were all subject to risk the planning approval. This was particularly difficult in a building that used to function as a bank, with a number of vaults built into the basement. These had helical coil reinforced concrete walls and floors that were up to a metre deep in places to surround vault areas. This made the formation of new openings a challenge. Existing structural openings were used wherever it was practical, which meant carefully coordinated design solutions.

The vaults were destined to become a focal point of the hotel. Ned’s Club downstairs features the original 1920s bank vault door entrance, and embraces the existing safety deposit box interior. The prevalence of marble, metal and the reinforced concrete walls provided a challenge for the necessary circulation of air and maintaining internal environmental conditions at a comfortable level. NDY’s design makes efficient use of many of the original service penetrations into the space, vital to preserving the look and feel of the club. The ventilation, heating and cooling solution is concealed by, and integrated within, the original ceiling and wall linings that provided the secure safety deposit boxes.

To ensure that all service installations would require minimum alterations to the building’s original features, the design was coordinated through REVIT 3D design imaging software. This allowed NDY to collaborate with all key stakeholders to show how the complex design would integrate into the existing structure and pinpoint any areas of concern long before the installation began.

By taking this approach, NDY, EPR Architects, Elliot Wood (structural engineers) and the Soho House Design team were able to collaborate to ensure that the interior design fully considered the requirements of the engineering services, the existing structure and integrated the necessary infrastructure features into the fitout.

The vaults were destined to become a focal point of the hotel. Ned’s Club downstairs features the original 1920s bank vault door entrance, and embraces the existing safety deposit box interior.

Efficient operation was also prioritised. The natural volume of the banking hall and high thermal mass of the building provided a sound foundation for operational efficiency initiatives.  Several techniques were integrated into the services design to improve the energy efficiency of the building. This included using heat recovery heating/cooling to the guestrooms and low energy lighting and heat recovery ventilation systems throughout the building.  A modular boiler installation combined with a CHP unit, operating in conjunction with thermal stores, as the lead heat source, provided efficient heat. A ‘smart’ variable air volume system was also utilised, with air quality sensors used to initiate a reduction to airflow in areas when lower occupancy levels apply.

The rooftop area, Ned’s Club Upstairs, has a heated pool overlooking the London skyline and two converted domes with outdoor terraces for eating and drinking – Princes Dome and Poultry Dome. The Roof Bar features a retractable roof and heaters, and offers views of the City and St Paul’s Cathedral, with an international menu prepared on the rotisserie grill and wood oven.

Cooling towers were used to optimise the use of one small section of roof area. The associated condenser water circuit was used for heat rejection by water cooled chillers, located at basement level, while water cooled VRF systems located at each guest room level used the condenser water circuit as a heat source, or heat sink. This allows people to enjoy the rooftop area without the visual or acoustic intrusion of major roof top plant installations.

The Ned’s IT infrastructure has been designed with a high degree of redundancy, which was crucial for the telephones, Wi-Fi, room security, tills, AV and environmental controls. The building has multiple fibre entry points for multiple telecommunications utilities, dual Main Equipment Rooms with duplicate equipment spread across both rooms, dual diverse routed backbone connections to each Secondary Equipment Room, and UPS backup throughout. All this to provide a hotel experience that is both seamless for the guests, and allows the hotel staff to provide critical ongoing maintenance with minimal disruption.

With the modern conveniences included in the design comes a modern appetite for power. The electrical power supply to the building has been provided via two sub-stations, which together provide appropriate resilience to mitigate the requirement for an essential service generator. This provides a reliable power supply, without taking up excessive amounts of floor area with standby plant and equipment.

The end result is the preservation of a key piece of British history, with new purpose, for a new era of guests to enrich their lives.

Key collaborative team:

  • EPR Architects
  • Elliot Wood (structural engineers)
  • Soho House Design

NDY services:

  • Communications
  • Electrical
  • Energy Modelling
  • Fire
  • Hydraulics
  • Mechanical
  • Security
  • Sustainability/ESD

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