New Lifts Bring More Than Just Great Aesthetics to Central London Building

Vandon Court is a collection of studio and one-bedroom apartments in a 1930s mansion building in Petty France, Central London. The building, in the Westminster area, is close to St James’s Underground station and ten minutes from Victoria Station’s Underground station.

The ten-storey block is serviced by a duplex pair of lifts. These needed to be either refurbished or replaced.

The board of directors of Vandon Court along with Encore Estates, the management company, brought in independent lift consultants, LECS UK to advise on the options and recommend the best way forward.

Lee Dean, LECS UK said: “As a completely independent engineering consultancy we are able to objectively review the limitations of the building, the wishes of the client and the current and future needs of the users. A key aspect to this, as with many projects of this nature, is to provide a cost effective, safe and reliable solution for the long-term use of the building.”

The lifts, installed circa 1950, had the original manual doors and round guide rails.

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LECS UK carried out condition surveys of the existing lifts and considered all the options. A detailed report was provided to the client explaining the pros and cons of refurbishment and replacement. LECS UK and the client jointly decided that a full replacement of the lifts was the most suitable approach.

In addition a comprehensive project management plan was put in place in order to achieve this in a fully occupied building.

A range of replacement options was developed and presented to the client for consideration. These included the installation of a traction MRL (Machine Room Less) lift and removing the need for a machine room altogether. Another consideration was using the existing pully room above the shaft for the new hoisting machine, this would have changed the lift design to a conventional top driven lift with a 1:1 rope arrangement. Due to the risk of increased noise and vibration at the top of the lift shaft and in close proximity dwellings, it was decided that the lifts would remain as bottom driven, using the existing machine room.

The aesthetics, noise levels and capacity of the new lifts were of particular importance and LECS UK worked incredibly closely with the client at Vandon Court, to ensure that the project’s vision was achieved. This meant larger lift cars, fully bespoke interior finishes including bespoke fonts and colouring of the lift car and landing indicators.

A robust specification document and tender document was prepared and put out to the market by LECS UK.

Lee Dean, LECS UK, said: “We managed the tender process for the client with five contractors submitting tenders for the project. Following analysis and interviews Qudos Lifts was chosen for this project.”

Peter Cammish MD, of Qudos Lifts, said: “We invested time and engineering expertise and felt we had put together a high quality response to the tender and we also have specific experience similar projects that we successfully delivered in London 2018.

“Together with LECS UK we took the client to see some similar lift installations in London to help provide assurances on how the new installation would look and feel when completed.”

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Works started in May with the removal of one of the existing lifts and original timber landing entrances. The new bottom drive tractions machines were installed including automated doors, modern control systems and more spacious lifts car. The entire installation of the first lift was completed within eight weeks. Following this work started on lift two.

Some of the added benefits of the lift replacements include:

- Compliance with current lift standards

- Increased safety for the building in the event of a fire

- Better reliability

- Increased size of the lift cars

- Fully automated lift doors

- Improved accessibility

- Smoother and more efficient ride with direct to floor approach

- Increased energy efficiency

- A modern look and feel to the new installations

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Russell Bunyan, senior residential portfolio manager, Encore Estates, said: “It was essential that two good quality lifts were delivered on budget that met the client’s needs and expectations. This was achieved while dealing with issues associated with the on-going pandemic.”

Replacement work started on the first lift in May 2020 and was completed in June. The second lift was replaced in July and completed in September 2020.