How Has Cantifix Contributed to the London Skyline?

We have subtly changed this wonderful city over three decades. Here’s how.


25 Apr 2024


Simon McAuliffe

A city skyline is to architects what a blank canvas is to artists: potential.


In one look, you can capture the essence of the place; its character, where it has come from, and where it intends to go. It is a statement of intent; a large innovative welcome mat to those who haven’t been here before; and a familiar panorama to those who call ‘here’ home.


The world has many impressive skylines – Paris, New York, Hong Kong, to name a few – but in our opinion, none rivals the one belonging to London, our nation’s capital. Depending on where you stand, your view might include the domed edifice of St Paul’s Cathedral, the sky-scraping Shard, the delightfully named Gherkin, the four chimneys of Battersea Powerstation, Big Ben (actually called Elizabeth Tower), Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and Tate Modern.


In short, London’s skyline has plenty to offer, studded with some of the country’s – if not the world’s – most famous buildings. But it is also forever changing as new additions are erected and old structures are given a new lease of life through renovation.


As you may already know, we’ve been delivering bespoke glazing solutions for a long time – over 30 years, in fact – so we’ve seen plenty of change. But as well as simply bearing witness to the evolution of London’s architecture, we have also played quite a significant part in delivering it.


Take a short journey through London with us, stopping at three sites to which we have contributed our products, expertise and world-class service.


Let’s start with a Grade II*-listed  building that was once responsible for generating a fifth of London’s power supply, and is today a hub of food, drink, arts and music…

Battersea Powerstation


Few buildings in London demonstrate the value of renovation and regeneration better than Battersea Powerstation, once a smoke-billowing colossus of industry and now a vibrant symbol of urban renewal. When the power station finally ceased producing electricity in 1983 – having done so for 48 years – its future was deeply uncertain; proposed plans for the site included a mega theme park, an urban jungle, and even a new stadium for Chelsea Football Club. 


Today, the only uncertainty is felt by visitors who are afraid of heights and have hesitantly taken a vertical ride in Lift 109 to the glazed viewpoint at the top of one of Battersea’s four chimney stacks. Its direction is as clear as the views from the top – the former power station is a mixed-purpose venue with swanky residential apartments, workspaces, sports facilities, an entertainment complex, and plenty of food and drink outlets.


Our work on Battersea Power Station was led by architectural firm Wilkinson Eyre and includes 60 seamless and frameless glass roofs to extensively brighten the different spaces and give visitors glimpses of the majestic towers above them. While that work hasn’t changed the silhouette of the iconic site, it – and that of our talented colleagues from other industries helped to secure Battersea’s future indefinitely, earning several awards in the process.


Raffles, formerly the Old War Office


A lot can happen in six years. That’s how long it took hundreds of craftspeople to transform the Baroque birthplace of 007 into a haven of hospitality in the heart of Whitehall. Completed in 1906, the Old War Office was a marvel of Edwardian architecture and consisted of more than 1,000 rooms, linked by two-and-a-half miles of corridors – many of which were wide enough for messengers to cycle up and down them on bikes. It was here that some of the 20th century’s biggest political moments played out, featuring well-known figures such as Winston Churchill, T E Lawrence, Lord Kitchener and Ian Fleming, the last of which may or may not have used the secret spy door, lending the building a deeply enigmatic appeal and providing the inspiration for James Bond.


In 1964 the War Office became the Old War Office and ceased to be used for its original intended purpose. Steadily, over time, it fell into a state of decay until, 50 years after closing, a renovation project led by listed construction company Ardmore Group began. To help with the transformation we were tasked with incorporating a unique sliding and opening curved rooflight from the Sky by Cantifix range, along with a modernist curved glazed frontage for the building’s Cocktail Bar. In our eyes, the restoration can be characterised by regal opulence meeting modern style and functionality.


Let’s be honest, the gloriously Baroque-styled Old War Office wasn’t going to go anywhere and disappear from the skyline if new life hadn’t been breathed back into it, but we are pleased to know that the building’s extraordinary exterior is now matched by a luxurious interior.

Senate House, University of London


Have you ever been to the British Museum? Inside you can gaze upon all manner of treasures from all across the world and from so many different eras that it will make your head spin. But just around the corner from the museum is another treasure, one that wrestles its way onto the skyline (depending on where you are standing) and grabs the attention of passers-by.


We are, of course, talking about Senate House, the administrative centre of the University of London. Our project started life as a basement and was used only for storage, but the illustrious institution knew there was a smarter way to utilise the space. They wanted to create a bright, airy co-working hub to consolidate the non-teaching members of staff into zones of collaboration. To do so, chief designers Spacelab created plans for a 20-metre-long atrium that snakes its way through the building and is punctuated by “touch-down” benches, breakout spaces and co-working booths. Above these facilities are 107 of our uniquely shaped panels that fit sequentially into an undulating steel frame to flood the space with light and deliver plenty of associated health benefits. 


The list goes on…


We could tell you all about our other London projects, but that might take a while (because there are so many, not just because we type slowly). There’s the arrow-shaped, asymmetrically glazed Aldgate Pavillion which operates as a café a stone’s throw from St Paul’s Cathedral, Leicester Square’s Odeon Cinema, the double-storey glass staircase in Soho, Somerset House’s courtyard restaurant, and a really lovely in-fill glass extension in Sherlock’s Baker Street.


To put it briefly, there are plenty of projects in London to which we’ve contributed our products and expertise.


…But it’s not just in London…


Leave London behind – by foot road or rail – and you will still find plenty of projects we’ve had the pleasure to work on. These are commercial spaces that have sought to boost employee productivity and overall well-being through the use of glazing, urban apartments that may have benefitted from the subtle privacy offered by glass walls, or rural homesteads that have contrasted their inherent rustic charm with cutting-edge modern design.


Conclusion – Why is Cantifix entrusted with so many iconic projects?


We’re not the new kids on the block. In fact, we remember when the block was first built because we supplied the structural glazing. Instead, our expertise is evident in some of the UK’s most impressive and timeless buildings, many of which slot themselves into London’s iconic skyline. If you want to learn more about the work that we do and don’t fancy wandering around the city of London or taking a trip beyond, contact our team of glazing specialists today.