A bold restoration work of the 1970s Camden Town Hall Annexe by Orms and Crosstree Real Estate Partners, the Standard, London, is the recipient of the RIBA London Award 2021 and RIBA National Award 2021. The restoration was realised under the collaboration of interior designers Shawn Hausman Design and Interior Architects Archer Humphryes and is the epitome of a case study of the possibilities within the realm of restoration in architecture. 

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The Standard, London_©Timothy Soar.

Building Material and Technology | The Standard London

The restoration project involved working with the internal area of 16,559 m² and involved processes of retaining and cleaning the pre-existing frames, along with the replacement of the original tinted windows with distinct rounded rectangular frames with clear glass and round panes with high-grade acoustic specifications that granted it with superior noise combat from the bustling street below. Since the Standard’s existing precast concrete panels consisted of an integral part of the building’s structure and couldn’t be altered without significant structural remodelling, Orms separated the annexe from the neo-classical Town Hall, which was realised by removing the stair core and concrete plant enclosure present at the roof level joining Annexe with the Camden Town Hall.

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The Facade Treatment of the Standard_© Timothy Soar.

This allowed for the mass of the building to be expressed as a stand-alone structure for the first time since its conception. In the rooftop extension, PVD-coated stainless cladding was used, resulting in a solid, well-sculpted roof element that catches the light differently throughout the day. Meanwhile, the eight floors timber and glass facade allows the bedrooms’ interior to flow out onto their private terraces with outdoor baths. The cantilevered ninth and tenth floors match the pre-existing structure below and host a new restaurant, bar, and a roof terrace above. The Standard flaunts a dramatic 4.6m floor-to-ceiling height on the top level, which maximises the views of St Pancras and Kings. The red external shuttle lift on the top floor, which symbolises the London bus with a rounded profile, enriches the facade features on the public face of the Standard.

The Standard: an Overview

The Standard, a luxury namesake chain’s sixth hotel, the first outside of America, is housed inside the iconic 1974 Brutalist building, which previously housed Camden Town Hall Annex in London’s King’s Cross. It is situated opposite St Pancras Station and was built by Camden Council’s architects and engineers in the Brutalist architectural style in the 1970s. The space within the building, originally designed as an office, was used by the council staff until 2014. A meticulous and tedious renovation and refurbishment were employed to convert this iconic architecture from regular office space to a luxury hotel.

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Three Top Floor Extension_© Timothy Soar.

The restoration work of the Standard led by Crosstree Real Estate Partners resolved a complex architectural issue through beautiful design intervention and careful deliberation. The architects, through an open tender process, proposed the refurbishment in a more sustainable way and through recognition of local positive sentimentality of familiarity towards this structure. But the recent restoration envisioned by Orms and Crosstree Real Estate Partners is far from the only restoration work on this 20th-century Brutalist Building. Over the years, the structure has undergone numerous major and minor adjustments and works restorations.

Methodology |’ The Standard London

The proposition was to retain the original concrete frame and the load-bearing concrete facade of the original building, which allowed the Standard to beat the RIBA Challenge’s carbon emissions benchmark by 60%, along with substantial capital cost savings. This strategy of retention and renewal was combined with the inclusion of a wide array of sustainable building technologies. Through the installation of a grey-water recycling plant, energy-efficient specification, and waste-water heat recovery systems, the Standard is a testament to the popular belief that luxury hotels cannot be sustainable. 

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The Entry Porch of the Standard_© Timothy Soar.

The pre-existing facades and openings were also restored with the retention of the concrete frame. A three-story vertical extension was also a part of this restoration project, accommodating 266 bedrooms whose facade was designed such that it is reminiscent of the geometry of the existing facade while contrasting with the Standard’s overall architectural expression. The meticulous spatial organisation of the Standard is such that the possibilities of future refurbishment seem meek. 

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The Standard As Viewed From a Raining Road in Front_©Timothy Soar.

Planning and Amenities

The Standard, after its restoration, houses additional amenities that promote a healthier public interaction and connection between the indoor and the outdoor visually and functionally. The addition of a library lounge pays respect to the space’s original use as it was inherited. This is done to spark conversations between people and enhance the tactile quality of the space. The ground floor accommodates a reception, bar, and restaurant. The engagement of the building with the local context and public has been facilitated through the removal of the western external staircase resulting in a permeability from Euston Road into Tonbridge Walk linking the new public garden. The 266 rooms in the upper levels range from rooms placed within the core, the “windowless sanctuaries” that allow unhindered rest to the terraced suites with outdoor baths.

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Interior View of the Library Lounge_© David Cleveland.

The Standard’s restoration has also involved the improvement of the service and structural amenities, resulting in the meek possibility of future restorations and demolishment. The replacement of the use of thermally improved and restored precast concrete panels in the facade has improved the thermal performance of the structure. The innovative service systems have been incorporated into the restoration along with the re-purposing of the pre-existing risers and air shafts, resulting in the minimisation of space impacts and the need for costly structural interventions. 

An Epitome in Contemporary Restoration Front | The Standard London

Though a bold transformation, the Standard is humble in its approach because of its tribute to the sentimentality of a pre-existing structure that has remained in the public eye for decades. The authenticity and materiality of the structure have been protected through excessive design interventions. Instead, with just the right amount of intervention, the building technologies of the present have been added to the structure to strengthen the structure’s ability to stand the test of time better and stay relevant in terms of functionality and sustainability. 

The Standard in the Urban Fabric of London _© Timothy Soar.

The structure is an example of how the present concern for the environment and sustainability can be employed in restoration projects and how even structures like luxury hotels standing in the centre of a city like London can silently abide by the concept of sustainability. The restoration of the Standard thus becomes essential to understand the repurposing of old structures and to upcycle them to better suit the needs of today instead of demolishment. It becomes a little part of history that we can continue co-existing with. 


RIBA Architecture.com. (2023). The Standard, London [online] Available at: h tps://www.architecture.com/awards-and-competitions-landing-page/awards/riba-regional-awards/riba-london-award-winners/2021/the-standard-london [Accessed 1 Jan. 2023]

Openhouse. (2023). The Standard, London [online] Available at: https://programme.openhouse.org.uk/listings/9211 [Accessed 1 Jan. 2023]

The Twentieth Century Society. (2023). Camden Town Hall Extension, London [online] Available at: https://c20society.org.uk/40-buildings-saved/28-camden-town-hall-extension-london [Accessed 1 Jan. 2023]

Restore London. (2023). Camden Town Hall [online] Available at: https://restore.london/projects/camden-town-hall/ [Accessed 1 Jan. 2023]


An architecture and art enthusiast, Rashmi Gautam, is an Architecture Student from Nepal in search of her own expression in forms of words and design. Finding solace in the company of literature, art and architecture, she can be found brooding in the nearest library or museum.