What do you do when you want to create the latest destination rooftop bar in London, but don’t want your vision to be hampered by the elements?
You turn your outdoor bar into an indoor bar – or an indoor, outdoor bar, if you’re the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Tower of London.
Jason Eastwood, Managing Director of Canopies UK, reveals how the sky really was the limit when it came to making sure guests can enjoy the iconic views of London from Hilton’s Savage Garden bar, whether it’s day or night, raining or sunny.
Canopies UK were contacted by the hotel’s owner to help transform the former Sky Lounge site on the 12th floor into a 8,870 sq ft, 400 capacity lounge bar, including a feature bar, cocktail lounge, dining areas, private spaces, as well as two large outdoor north and south-facing terraces.
Essentially, the project involved making a real statement, which Canopies UK enabled the Hilton to do by helping the hotel make the most of every single square inch of space that was available to them – both inside and out.
“The north Wildside terrace is a dedicated events space that can be hired for private events and functions, such as weddings, and looks out over many of London’s landmarks, including Tower Bridge, The Gherkin and St Paul’s Cathedral,” explains Jason.
“Being up on the roof, meant that the new bar, particularly the Wildside terrace, was at the mercy of the weather, so we were called upon to install one our Cantabria canopies, which features not one, but six retractable roofs that can be opened and closed independently of each other at the touch of a button. From a design perspective, it’s a real head-turning feature, and from a practical perspective, it enables the terrace to be quickly and easily transformed from an al fresco summer hotspot into a winter events space for private hire and seasonal pop-ups.”
In addition to the highly stylish and unique retractable waterproof roofs, the canopy also features integrated guttering, LED lighting, heating and a combination of fixed and vertical sliding glass screens that can be retracted in the finer weather and partially or fully closed in cooler, wetter and more changeable weather. Meanwhile, the overall structure has been painted grey so that it seamlessly blends in with the surroundings and the inside is white, which helps make the space feel bright and spacious.
A tall order
Working at such a height – 12 storeys up – meant that Canopies UK had to overcome several logistical and practical challenges in order to install the canopy, which spans 37 metres in length and stands at almost six metres tall.
A total of 18 crane lifts were used to move the 20,000kg of materials that were needed to build the canopy, from the ground to the top floor within extremely tight parameters. Due to the site’s central London location, there was limited space for the materials on both the ground level and up on the roof.
“Thanks to our careful planning and logistics and working closely with the hotel and other contractors, we were able to work around these space restrictions,” adds Jason.
Canopies UK also had to overcome several other challenges that really put their skills to the test during the four-month project, which included increasing the overall height of the 36 metre-long canopy so that it incorporated the terrace steps. This was achieved through a combination of clever design and joining systems and by creating a Perspex-filled arc feature.
And because the building wasn’t totally square with the canopy, Canopies UK made a bespoke GRP system that linked the building and the system neatly together. While state-of-the-art Hilti scanning tools and bespoke structural calculations were used to fix the actual structure to the existing roof.
The sky’s the limit
“Our extensive experience and tried-and-tested processes, particularly our site-specific calculations, all really came into play for this installation,” adds Jason.
“For instance, by scanning the concrete, we were able to create a bespoke fixing method that would cause minimal disruption to the structure. It’s innovative ways of working like this, that also meant the hotel was able to stay fully open and all nearby guest and conference rooms and bar areas could still be used as the Cantabria canopy took shape.
“This project really does prove that the sky’s the limit when it comes to installing one of our canopy systems. We’re extremely proud of this installation, which is testimony to the fact it’s possible to transform your outdoor space into indoor space, no matter how tight space gets or how high up you may be!”
The hotel’s General Manager, Bernadette Gilligan, said: “The canopy on Wildside has been flawlessly designed to accommodate events throughout the year.
“Come rain or shine, guests can enjoy everything from drinks to private events in the space as the retractable canopy – designed and built as bespoke for Savage Garden – means that the terrace can be cosy and covered during winter, and the perfect suntrap come summer.”