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Upgrading Crittall-Style Windows with Secco Sistemi

Crittall-style windows are timeless, but how can they be upgraded?

Date

07 May 2024

By

Matthew Sharman

Picture this: you are standing in a building which could be described as industrial chic. 

 

Its raw elements – steel, brick and pipes, for example – have been effortlessly blended with the minimalistic principles of modern, sleek design to create something that is both comfortable and classy, fresh but boasting plenty of traditional charm. As your eyes scan the room, they will undoubtedly fall on the pièce de résistance of almost any project – the Crittall-style windows.

 

The popularity of Crittall-style windows and doors is entirely understandable, illustrated by many people incorporating them into their sympathetic restorations of buildings such as former countryside workshops, factories and soot-stained Victorian townhouses. These grid-like sections of glazing divided by heavy metal not only provide the spaces with genuine style and character, they also act as a bridge between the past and the present. They are timeless, occupying a liminal position – not quite one thing, not quite another, but perfectly at home.

 

The design concept is not only reserved for exterior walls and doors; instead, many people have adopted it for internal glass walls, glass roofs and even shower screens!

 

If you incorporated Crittall-style doors and windows into your home, public space or commercial property 10 years ago, for example, and you opted for what seemed like – at the time – a cost-effective designer, supplier and fitter, you might now be required to think about replacing them. Perhaps they aren’t quite as energy efficient as you would like, there is too much reflection, or they don’t have the bespoke quality you might expect when you get up close and take a look.

 

If you find yourself in this position, the word ‘upgrade’ might be on your lips. But how can you go about achieving that? 

 

We’re glad you asked.

 

We have partnered with legendary Italian metal frame manufacturer Secco Sistemi to combine our top-quality glazing solutions, that can incorporate cutting-edge technologies, with their tried-and-tested profile bars to deliver what we can only describe as excellence materialised.

 

In this blog post, we want to show you how you can sympathetically upgrade Crittall-style windows to suit your design in the present moment, whilst ensuring their quality and suitability for the future.

What are Crittall-style doors and windows?

 

Crittall-style doors and windows are characterised by their unique grid-like steel frames that provide structure and durability. The name ‘Crittall’ comes from a UK window manufacturer that was founded in the 19th century and continues to operate today. Each square pane of glazing is separated from the next by thin metal mullions and transoms, giving the window or door a simple symmetrical appearance.

 

Crittall-style doors and windows were popularised when they were first introduced back in the 19th century because they had the strength and durability to be incorporated into industrial and commercial buildings where robustness was essential. They also provided workspaces with an abundance of light at a relatively low cost, something that was essential when so many people were working with their hands around quite dangerous machinery. 

 

Who are Secco Sistemi?

 

Secco Sistemi is a revered Italian manufacturer of bespoke metal window frames. They have been providing their service internationally for the last 70 years, and in that time have produced 2.5 million linear metres of profile bars for 20,000 windows and doors. So, you would be right in thinking that Secco Sistemi is no stranger to Crittall-style windows. In fact, we’ve worked alongside them on a number of projects during their “ethical and sustainable pursuit of beauty”.

How can you upgrade Crittall-style windows with Secco Sistemi?

 

Crittall-style window frames created by Secco Sistemi don’t just look the part from a distance. You can get as close as you like and the quality will shine through, reflected in one of four precious metals and eight finishes. But, as the old saying should go, a window is only as good as its glass. With that in mind, here are a few ways that our partnership with the Italian window-producing giants can help to sympathetically upgrade your Crittall-style fixtures and fittings.

 

In-keeping with the original design

 

When Crittall-style windows were first created, they didn’t use plastic, nor did they cut other corners when it came to materials used to get the product out the door. Instead, when you are lucky enough to see an original window, you will be met by worked metal that has been specifically engineered to fit the particular space. It would, therefore, be a huge shame and – in most people’s eyes – just wrong to replace it with a sub-standard alternative that appears only vaguely similar when you squint or remove your glasses.

 

They say there is no substitute for originality, but our partnership with Secco Sistemi comes pretty close, adhering to the bespoke manufacturing principles of old to create something that is as good (if not better) than what was there already.

 

The alternative scenario is that you would like to install Crittall-style windows and doors into your renovation project – perhaps of an old farmhouse or factory. By using Secco’s frames and our glazing, you ensure that there is no jarring disparity between the old and the new, but instead a subtle blending of heritage style and modern innovation.

 

Energy efficiency

 

Speaking of innovation, energy efficiency has come a long way in the last few decades alone. What with our acute awareness of both the fluctuating cost of energy and the need to reduce our carbon footprint, it is a subject that could not be any more prominent within construction conversations – and rightfully so!

 

The technologies that we use include thermal breaks, low-emissivity coatings, thermochromic elements (changes the opacity in reaction to temperature), and photochromic glass (changes in reaction to light), all of which contribute to keeping your space warm in winter and cool in summer. It might not seem like a big deal, but optimised glazing can reduce consumption – and, therefore, emissions – by as much as 30% – quite a considerable amount when scaled up to the large office or commercial spaces. But don’t let the Crittall-style of windows fool you – these are not products whereby you have to choose between style and substance; with this partnership between ourselves and Secco Sistemi, you can have both.

 

Sustainable materials

 

The question of reducing our personal and immediate contributions to climate change (such as reducing your heating usage) is an important one, but so too is the slightly more abstract question of where our products come from. We should be trying – wherever possible – to promote sustainability, something that Secco Sistemi does at every twist and turn of the manufacturing process.

 

Their precious metals are responsibly sourced, ensuring you have both peace of mind and a really great-looking product to boot. While sustainability wasn’t at the forefront of thinking back when Crittall-style windows were first created, it is today, and we are proud to be doing everything we can to ensure your renovation project doesn’t cost the earth.

Versatility

 

Whereas once upon a time Crittall-style windows and doors were deployed exclusively on the exterior of a building, today their use is limited only by your imagination. Why not, for example, choose to incorporate the iconic grid frame into a glass roof which captures the sun in between its quadrants while bringing in plenty of natural light; alternatively, you could deploy a series of interior glass walls which improve privacy and tastefully divide up a space without sacrificing on style.

 

If you are looking specifically for Crittall-style doors, you might choose a sliding door, a swinging one or maybe even a bi-fold configuration. Because Secco Sistemi utilises modern, efficient production methods, doors and windows can be ergonomic instead of simply heavy – which the industrial connotation might suggest.

An example of a Crittall-style project:

 

Harella House

 

In the 1930s this was a clothes factory, busily producing garments in the heart of London’s Clerkenwell district. But then the industry shrank as imports grew and the building changed hands several times and was unsympathetically renovated over and over again. The challenge for architects Piercy&Company in 2016 was to excavate the character of the building and put it in pride of place. Today, visitors can enjoy the fruit of this environmental renovation which not only brought Harella House back to life, but also reduced its carbon emissions by as much as 47% – modern Crittall-style windows provided by Cantifix being significantly responsible for that saving.

 

Conclusion

 

Crittall-style windows are great, but they are excellent when they combine Secco Sistemi’s manufacturing heritage and our glazing innovation. Suitable for almost any sympathetic restoration project, the timeless glazing solutions open doors – literally. If you would like to know more about our projects, those of Secco Sistemi’s, or how our joint products can be of service to you, speak to our experienced team of specialists today.