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A SPOLIGHT ON | A Recently Completed Scheme, The Castle Club

Knowles is pleased to announce that we have completed works at The Castle Club, Fulham.

Having commenced work in November 2021, Knowles were appointment by Thackeray Estates as Main Contractor to complete Phase 1 shell and core work, and working closely with the team from Thackeray, alongside Darling Associates (Architect) and Structural Engineers, Engineeria.

As a part of Knowles’ Phase 1 S&C package, alterations and restoration of the existing Grade II listed building were carried out, as well as the build of a new 4-storey pre-cast concrete structure including a 5,000 sq/ft basement, which was directly linked to the existing building. The new extension has been designed to sympathetically integrate and compliment with the original Grade II listed building – carefully unifying both historic and contemporary design, and further enhancing the existing streetscape in this conservation area.

Originally built in 1855, by architect Horace Francis, The Castle Club is built in the Gothic Revival style and a juxtaposition from the local surroundings. The Castle Club is known as an iconic building located within the Hurlingham Conservation Area in Parsons Green and was formerly the Eight Feathers Club, and originally a private school.

Once fully completed The Castle Club will be a new state-of-the-art care home supporting the local Fulham area. The sympathetic yet modern extension has introduced additional floor space, with the design reinvigorating and reinstating a local landmark building, while fully respecting and retaining the historic character and principal architecture.

Full Details on Knowles’ Scope of Works Included:

  • Secant piled basement with raft foundation, perimeter RC liner walls and retaining walls & full basement cavity drainage waterproofing system
  • Piled foundations to support ground floor level slabs
  • RC concrete & steel frame with RC concrete slabs, RC walls and riser openings
  • Low maintenance green roof areas with access routes, hard landscaped plant areas and terraces, mansafe systems, rooflights, and glazed balustrades to terrace
  • RC lift core
  • Building envelope works (external cladding, windows, external doors)
  • M&E
  • Internal alterations to suit new shell & core layout
  • External works including site wide drainage, hard landscaping

We sat down with Knowles’ Project Manager on the scheme, Robin O’Toole to find out more on the challenges has faced on this project, what he believes is the key to delivering a project of this complexity and more.

What challenges have you experienced on the Project, and how did you overcome them?

There have been various challenges to overcome on this project, from the strict regulations that come with working on a listed building, the unexpected ground water encountered during the basement dig, to the management and coordination of the D&B subcontractors, many of which were specialist due to the nature of the project. Over the course of the project, we encountered some quite extreme weather conditions which caused issues to the external works. However, these were all overcome by keeping focused on particular issues/the matters at hand and with strong communication through the team while tracking matters closely.

What has been your favourite part of the project?

 My favourite part of the project was seeing the new build section being constructed, with RC frame, precast concrete panels and curtain walling. I loved the juxtaposition between this part of the building and the listed building.

 

What do you believe is the key to delivering a successful project of this complexity?

The key to delivering this complex project successfully was having a very helpful, collaborative team. We carried out regular design workshops which were necessary to overcome the various issues throughout.

 

What did you find interesting about this project?

The restoration of the Grade 2 Gothic style listed building, and the very contemporary pre-cast new build structure. It was very interesting to see these two extreme examples of construction combined into one, and how they worked so well together, which was a credit to the Architect.

 

What is the most complex aspect of working on a historic building and what are the key considerations?

Working on a historic building is very complex, especially when faced with the restrictions against using modern building methods and materials, instead using specific non-standard materials. We uncovered issues along the way, which were only discovered through the course of carrying out the works. Dealing with these various issues that were thrown up, overcoming them, and remaining on programme was a challenge.  

Project Team

Main Contractor – Knowles
Client – Thackeray Group
Architect – Darling Associates
Structural Engineers – Engineeria
Contract Administrator – Leslie Clarke

IN THE MEDIA | Prime Recce: How Knightsbridge is regaining its lost shine

Knowles and our Lancelot Place project have been featured in PrimeResi’s most recent article on the resurgence of the Prime Central London area, Knightsbridge.
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After losing ground to other parts of PCL over recent years, London’s glitziest district is polishing up nicely; join us on a whistle-stop tour of some of the area’s super-prime highlights, from the record-breaking private palace, to the ground-breaking developments putting the neighbourhood back in the spotlight…

Knightsbridge was arguably the centre of the super-prime world in the early part of this century, as schemes including 199 Knightsbridge and One Hyde Park set new global standards with their spectacular residences serviced by five-star amenities.

A wave of top-end development in neighbouring Mayfair has tempted buyers away in recent years, and the area was left behind in the “race for space”, but things are on the turn once more.

 

Knowles’ boutique townhouse scheme

Works began on creating a set of brand new townhouses in Knightsbridge’s Trevor Square Conservation Area earlier this year.

The project involves the demolition of six existing houses on Lancelot Place dating back to the 1960s, and will eventually create five new luxury residences in the “iconic” location.

Super-prime construction firm Knowles is in the principal contractor role.

The transformation will see the excavation of a complete-footprint double-depth basement, build of a three-storey superstructure, and complete shell & core works including envelope works. Phase 2, currently upon appointment, will include the final fit-out and finishes.

The finished articles will measure 3,500 square feet apiece and play a part in revitalising the Brompton Road’s surrounding streets, said Knowles.

Phase 1 is due to complete in April 2023, with full completion expected in November 2023.

The oven-ready project was being offered on the open market back in 2020, with agents describing the plot as “one of the world’s most iconic locations”.

To read the full article click here

WATCH | Knowles 2022 Year in Review!

2022 has been an incredibly successful and exciting year, where we have commence, continued and delivered some incredible projects, and build on our expertise.

This year, Knowles have delivered multiple schemes across London and the Home Counties, and we close out the year with 16 live projects with many new projects starting in Q1 2023.

You can spot Knowles sites in Surrey, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, St John’s Wood, Knightsbridge, and Wimbledon, to name but a few areas.

Some of the projects we were proud to have started and also complete this year include a luxury commercial scheme ‘The Castle Club’, a combined restoration and modernisation of a Fulham Landmark; two super-prime private residences in St John’s Wood; a collection of luxury townhouses on Knightsbridge’s, Lancelot Place and a private country estate in Surrey sitting in the vicinity of Englefield Green.

As we head into 2023, after a well deserved Christmas break, we are preparing for new exciting projects, of which we look forward to sharing with you in the new year.

But for now, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

JOB VACANCY | Structural Project Manager

Knowles is recognised as one of the leading construction contractors in London and the Home Countries. Across our 30-year history, Knowles have delivered some of London, Surrey, Berkshire, and Oxfordshire’s most exciting and prestigious projects.

This role will be primarily for a super-prime structural contract, located in Central London.

 

JOB PURPOSE

To manage the site team on the project and work closely and alongside the Project Director and Senior Quantity Surveyor to ensure that the project is delivered to the highest standard whilst maintaining the Company’s reputation for quality. 

Candidates must have experience in successfully delivering super-prime projects, with an emphasis on complex structural works. Individuals will need to have a strong understanding of everything from piling, groundworks, basement construction, and concrete/steel frame construction while working on a mixture of residential and mixed-use schemes.

Must have a proven track record in a role which required liaison with designers, clients, and other parties to ensure that the project is a complete success. They must also be able to proactively manage the site team, as well as specialist subcontractors, and be able to plan and programme projects in detail to achieve deadline, without compromising on quality or safety.

 

REQUIREMENTS

Suitable construction professionals will ideally be degree qualified in civil engineering or construction management and will be able to show a strong history from a site engineer level through to management over the last 5-10+ years.

It is crucial that applicants can show a strong amount of steel/concrete frame and groundwork construction background having worked for other frame and groundwork subcontractors in the UK.

Regarding software, our client uses the usual Microsoft programmes, standard email functions and Asta Power Project for planning/programming works. Project Managers will be required to use all these tools.

 

MAIN RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Oversee commercial activities of the surveying team and ensure all Company processes and procedures are communicated and embedded in everyday workings.
  • Line manage the complete site team.
  • Work with the Project Director to ensure that high standards of delivery are maintained and that there is early identification of the escalation of any commercial project risk so that necessary action can be taken.
  • Prepare reports for Knowles’ Board of Directors
  • Management of internal quality control software

KNOWLEDGE

  • HNC in Construction or relevant Degree level qualification
  • Detailed knowledge private residential building contracting.
  • Good/ Excellent understanding of traditional building methods and products associated with the refurbishment of listed buildings and super-prime market

 EXPERIENCE & BEHAVIOURS

  • Act in a manner befitting the status and responsibility of a Project Manager
  • Be confident in dealing directly with Architects, Quantity Surveyors, Clients and Subcontractors

Please send applications to jerry@knowles.uk.com

AUTOCAVE by Knowles

Whilst most our clients simply need additional living space, which come in the form of significant basement excavations, or complete reconstruction of family homes, some of our projects involve more complicated usage requirements. Over our years, we have delivered unique spaces for a range of uses, however, over the last 10 years we have noted a shift in the market which has required us to adapt our expertise, and work with innovative technologies that provide our clients with a safe solution for the ever-growing collection of luxury cars – this is even more prevalent and notable in London.

Safe, discrete, and beautifully designed, Knowles’ AUTOCAVE division create subterranean destinations for clients wanting a private space within their home for their collection of cars. Marking a new age of private car storage.

Each luxury garage is designed to be completely bespoke for our Clients and their specific requirements, and range from a simpler car stacker, to complete destinations under a properties footprint, designed to house anywhere between 5 to 65 cars. These advance style space often commands state-of-the-art lifts, specialist ventilation systems, lighting design and security configurations.

Our most recent AUTOCAVE project was in Surrey, where a private car collection is now elegantly, safely and securely housed in a bespoke parking solution, which comprised of two car stacking systems provided by Wohr parking.

Working with The Basement Design Studio and Wohr, AUTOCAVE were able to create a storage shell to house the custom, innovative car stacking system, comprised of one double width lift, designed to house four vehicles, and one single width lift accommodating a further two vehicles. This was completed with electrical vehicle charging points.

The primary function of this was to enable the client to securely store their collection of rare cars out of sight and under their driveway, providing them more space (above ground) to park their everyday cars, as well as the peace of mind that their collection is safe and secure in a subterranean lockbox.

The Client approached Knowles, and through our regular partners of AUTOCAVE, The Basement Design Studio (Architects on the project) Knowles design and built this 600 sq/ft space. The project was completed with the installation of the 6 car stackers lift and its associated hydraulics as well as hard landscaping. The project was completed earlier this year over a 35-week programme.

 

For more information on our AUTOCAVE division, click here.

NEW PROJECT | Knowles appointed as Principal Contractor for a Luxury Residence on Hamilton Terrace

Knowles is delighted to announce that we have recently been appointed as Principal Contractor at a prestigious project on Hamilton Terrace, St Johns Wood. The project involves the complete remodel and extension of the existing the residence which includes the formation of a new 2,500 sq/ft basement.

 

With phase 1 due to complete in Q4 2023, Knowles’ scope of works will include façade retention, excavation of the new basement level and substructure, formation of the new internal superstructure.

 

Located in St John’s Wood, North London, Hamilton Terrace is a wide, highly sought-after, tree-lined residential thoroughfare. Named after Charles Hamilton, a Harrow School governor, the street is home to a variety of grand detached and semi-detached houses and mansion blocks, which has been home to a number of notable residents including artists, musicians, actors and actresses and many more. With its village like ambiance, elegant regency buildings, world famous cricket ground and established cosmopolitan atmosphere, St John’s Wood is one of prime London’s most desirable addresses.

Contract Administrator – Regency Grove 

Architects – KSR 

Structural Engineers – HTS 

M&E – Integration 

 

Hamilton Terrace, NW8

 

 

A SPOTLIGHT ON | A Super-Prime Country Residence

Over the last five years, Knowles have operated multiple sites located throughout the Home Counties, in addition to our main base of London, managed by Knowles’ Country Division.

With projects located in Berkshire, Surrey, Wiltshire, The Cotswolds and more, we have utilised and homed in on our decades of experience, alongside a focus on innovation and value engineering gained and achieved in London, to offer all our clients across the UK, the same dynamic and agile service that we are recognsied for in London, in these Home County locations.

In this blog, we dive a bit deeper into one of our super-prime schemes in Surrey where Knowles are working as Principal Contractor.  

Located in one of the most exclusive villages in Surrey, once built this private residence will stand as a magnificent four-storey home, which features everything a house of this stature requires – including, but not limited to a swimming pool wing, guest houses, staff accommodation, private car storage, gate lodges and other ancillary building – all of which will be designed with stunning architectural features. These features include a projecting pediment on stone pilasters, classic sash windows with stone surrounds and a classic no-Georgian symmetrical appearance with a Palladian influence.

As Principal Contractor, Knowles’ scope of works on the project includes the excavation of a 35,000 sq/ft basement and a 38,000 sq/ft superstructure – along with other essential works including landscaping and building of required access roads.

A notable feature of this project is the beautiful French limestone stone that has been specially sourced from the Tonnerre basin in Massangis, Burgundy.  Supplied and manufactured by HÉRÈS, 800 cubic meters of limestone will clad the entire exterior of the 38,000 sq/ft superstructure. This stone has been used on spectacular monuments including the pillars by the Eiffel Tower, originating from one of the most beautiful quarries in France.

Sitting on an impressive 15 acres, with an anticipated construction completion date of Spring 2024, the residence will stand as one of the UK’s most prestigious country-houses.

However, with a project of this magnitude, challenges are to be expected. We sat down with Project Manager, Nic Goulbourn to find out about what challenges has faced on this project, how he overcame them, what he finds most interesting about the project and what he believes is the key to delivering a project of this scale.

What challenges have you experience so far? And how did you overcome them?

Our basement excavation was carried out below the water table. Dewatering is used on civil engineering and construction projects to enable excavations to go below the groundwater level.

We used dewatering methods that involves the temporary lowering of groundwater level to below an excavation level to enable an excavation to be undertaken in stable ground conditions.  The water from the ground was then recirculated back into the ground through discharge wells installed in a separate location of site. The dewatering was installed onto perimeter sheet piling around the perimeter of site until the Basement concrete box was fully formed.

The Basement box was sitting on Tension Piles Tension piles which had to be designed to anchor the concrete box to resist uplift forces that might otherwise cause it to be extracted from the ground.

During some of the deeper excavations (lift pits, chambers etc.) the ground water became an issue, so we had to locally dewater the excavations to allow pits to be constructed.

What has been your favourite part of the project so far?

The programme for the ground works and frame was aggressive but we have managed to stay ahead of programme even with challenging ground conditions. The team have all stepped up to the challenge and the hard work has paid off.

What do you believe is the key to delivering a successful project of this scale?

Collaboration as this is the key to a successful project. Collaboration encourages teamwork, it stimulates information sharing, helps improves communication amongst project team members and most importantly, improves the quality and efficiency of the project.  The collaboration between Knowles, our subcontractors and the Client Team has been great to date.

What did you find interesting about his project?

The scale of the project is huge.  The Main House is circa 60,000 sq ft with a further 9,000 sq ft of ancillary buildings.  It’s the biggest property I have personally worked on and I’m looking forward to seeing it finished.

What is the most complex aspect of building a basement of this size?

Other than ground water, we have had to excavate and remove 4,000 muck away lorries from site through narrow village roads.  On some days we had over 100 lorries visiting site to keep up with the excavation programme. This took a lot of coordination on site to keep it efficient and safe.

Knowles Country | An Insight Into Our Country Division

Britain is renowned for its magnificent historic buildings and beautiful country estates, however, maintaining, restoring, or developing these buildings requires skill, experience and understanding.

After successfully establishing ourselves in the London super-prime market over the past 25 years, proving to be one of the most trusted construction experts, we decided to take our comprehensive range of services, specialist skills and expert knowledge into the Home Counties. Today, we have built a team with decades worth of experience Knowles, and with members of our team that have an intimate understanding and respect for the country’s rich architectural heritage, local materials, artisan trades.

Knowles Country is primarily geographically focused on the Home Counties, having delivered schemes over the past 6 years specifically in Berkshire, Surrey, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.

We utilise our decades worth of experience, alongside a focus on innovation and commitment to value engineering, to consistently offer all our clients the same dynamic, agile service that is widely regarded in London.

With this expertise comes a track record of restoring, conserving and sensitively altering some of the country’s finest residences, alongside newly constructed super-prime private houses and country estates. Projects include neo-classical restoration schemes, 50,000 sq/ft Georgian inspired private residences, Country Estate redevelopment, and the construction of residential leisure outbuildings and landscaping, and often a seamless combination of tradition with innovative, modern construction techniques. We are equally comfortable building a contemporary new-build house and family estate in the Cotswolds as we are restoring a townhouse in Regents Park.

Committed to building excellence, Knowles Country is specifically positioned to deliver the finest private residences, ensuring our expertly delivered works are not just seen and felt in London. Our all-encompassing construction service makes us uniquely positioned to deliver a project from concept to completion and beyond, with the ability to manage all aspects of the project – from the vital early stage enabling works and groundworks, all the way to exclusive high-end finishes and opulent landscaping – we help create buildings that will stand the test of time. This start to finish proposition is recognised Clients and professional teams alike.

 

Finding a contractor capable of reviving, developing, and maintaining a country estate and all the buildings on it, can be a challenge. However, Knowles has the inhouse experience and skills to delivery just this. We provide all the building services that your estate needs to run smoothly, now, and in the decades to come. Our team is proud to have worked with some of the best known and highly acclaimed architects and designers.

A SPOTLIGHT ON: Avenue Road | A Super-Prime Family Home, in the heart of North London.

Over the last six years, Knowles have consistently operated multiple sites located both on and around the prestigious Avenue Road, St Johns Woods in North London. Just a stone’s throw away from Primrose Hill, Regents Park and the infamous Abbey Road Studios, Knowles currently have three live schemes, all within 500 meters of each other.

With Avenue Road being crowned ‘North London’s premier address’ by PrimeResi, the area is perfect for investment properties with its unusually large plots of land for its central location, attracting many rich and famous residence.  The area has undergone a revitalisation with a flurry of super-sized acquisitions over the last few years.

This ‘leafy St John’s Wood thoroughfare has overtaken The Bishop’s Avenue & Winnnington Road in terms of UHNW buyer appeal’, as stated by local agency Aston Chase, and is now ‘up there with the likes of Kensington Palace Gardens, The Boltons, Cornwall Terrace and Holland Park’.

Knowles is currently working as Principal Contractor on a new super-prime private residence in the heart of St Johns Wood. The project commenced back in August 2021, and our scope of works on this luxury residence include the initial demolition of the existing property, followed by the excavation of a double-depth basement and the re-build of an aesthetically sensitive and original style superstructure.

Included in Knowles’ package of works is the complete internal fit-out, designed by which includes high-spec luxury finishes, as well as the installation of key leisure facilities including a spa and swimming pool. Focus turns outside at this property to the garden area, which will be designed by leading landscape architect, Bowles & Wyer.

The professional team working on the project alongside Knowles are Architecture firm, SHH Architects, Structural Engineers, Ross & Partners, MEP Consultants, ME7 and Project Managers, Quantity Surveyor & Principal Designer, Jackson Coles

Having already completed multiple schemes in close proximity to the project over the years, Knowles knew the project it wouldn’t come without challenges. However, with our extensive experience in delivering complex construction, and specialist knowledge on delivering such challenging projects, we felt confident in our ability to successful complete the project.

When speaking to the Knowles team on the challenges they faced, Site Manager, Ahmed Zair shared two main complexities that were to be faced on site. Firstly, the top-down excavation and its associated logistics, and secondly, the installation of the temporary propping to enable the excavation work to happen.

“The project is designed so that the basement covers almost the entire footprint of the site, including the site entrance from main street. Therefore, the inclusion of a top-down slab was required, in order to provide a loading /unloading area and access to site. This was followed by an excavation below the loading area which was 2 levels down (approximately 11m deep) and this was delivered using temporary propping to contiguous piles wall. Our experienced site team followed the safe system of work, while managing the excavation process by using the three different sized 360 excavators, from the lowest level to mid-level’’

Meet the team - Ahmed, Site Manager, Charlie, Assistant Site Manager and Cristian, Site Foreman!

“From an engineering perspective, temporary propping was used to support the contiguous piled wall while excavation to basement formation level was underway. The size and weight of the props required thorough and extensive planning and coordination – from its delivery to site, unloading and assembling the segments, to installing, testing & completion.”

QUICK FIRE Q&A | With Ahmed Zaire, Site Manager & Charlie Leese, Assistant Site Manager

 

Q: What is the most complex aspect of building a basement of this size/in general?

Ahmed – The retention of basement perimeter walls, the excavation logistics and the RC Basement Slabs.

CharlieBeing able to work at the pace required for programme, whilst always maintaining a safe working environment.

 

Q: What has been your favourite part of the project so far?

Ahmed – Our in-house piling and temporary works design, delivered all within Knowles, were executed successfully, efficiently and proved a practical solution for the design and site team planning and coordination. This was a result of rigorous planning beforehand within the management team, and the years of experience within the K piling team.

Charlie – Learning the skills of ‘setting out’ was my favourite part of the project so far. As a pivotal part of any project, learning this skill has been and will continue to be extremely beneficial to me as I grown within Knowles, allowing me to have a well-rounded skillset and knowledge, acting as both a site manager and site engineer. It is required through all stages of the project, from piling & groundworks, drainage, steeling fixing and shuttering. Therefore, with a project like this, that is designed with multiple level changes, walls etc, even marking points for a radius of a jacuzzi, has allowed me to gain a deeper understand every stage of the process from the larger to smaller details.

Q: What did you find interesting about his project?

Charlie – Piling, and seeing how Knowles’ in-house teamwork with such efficiency, which in turn, aided my understanding of the piling process greatly. Logistics, especially on such an intricate, yet expansive project, has been interesting, particularly when seeing how the management team and operatives on site have worked around a project that does have its logistically challenges.

 

Q: What do you believe is the key to delivering a successful project as complex as this?

Ahmed

  • Teamwork – Building a team is the most important key factor in successful project delivery.
  • Communication is also a key part of this – Clear, open, and honest communications are integral to any project and is often the reason many projects come unstuck.
  • Organisation and planning for what is ahead in order to minimise disruption and delays.
  • Management of expectations

 Charlie

  • Teamwork and Communication
  • A good understanding of all the processes involved in works of these nature.
  • Maintaining a good relationships with neighbours, especially in such a populated area. For example, the project required the closure of a bust road in order for the tower crane to be erected. By having a good line of communication, regularly updating the site’s newsletter and always being responsive and understanding with any queries or complaints they might have, on the day we were able to complete this task with minimal disruption and no complaints.

Knowles Wins the Large Project of the Year Award at the ASUC Awards 2022

Knowles are very pleased to share that our Structures Team, led by Project Manager Tony Trapani, have won the ASUC Large Project of the Year Award 2022.

Knowles were recognised for our involvement in leading the complex works at St Marks Coptic Church, the team were commended for their ability to ensure the project did not disrupt the congregation by ensuring the Church remained open, maintained programme and overcame major structural challenges.

Yesterday’s Annual Awards were back for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and were held at the historic Painters Hall in the City and were hosted by Jo Caulfield from ‘Have I Got News For You’ and the ASUC Chair, Rob Withers. The awards brings together the leading contractors and supplies from across the substructure sector, and are a fantastic opportunity for members of the ASUC to get together, celebrate achievements and receive recognition for their hard work over the past year.

The ‘Project of the Year’ award is divided into three subcategories, small, medium and large, for projects of different monetary values. Knowles were lucky enough to win in the large category, for project with a value of over £1m. 

Knowles were also this years Gold Sponsor and Managing Director, Robin Knowles, had the pleasure of presenting the Special Achievement Award. 

THANKYOU to the ASUC for recognising Knowles this year and our fantastic Structures Team.