Leaving little to the imagination… a revealing restoration by Thomann-Hanry® at Spirella House.
Spirella House on Oxford Circus
Acquired in 2009 for £22.9 million by Italian fashion conglomerate Calzedonia for its flagship brand Tezenis, the history of Spirella House reveals a long association with underwear and lingerie. Thomann-Hanry® were commissioned to clean this Oxford Circus landmark, revealing the beauty of the building as it first appeared in 1913.
Spirella House building history
Now one of the capital’s busiest pedestrian crossings, the junction first opened as “Regent Circus North” in 1819 as part of the Regent Street development, which was overseen by John Nash. Almost 100 years later, with their leases due to expire in 1917, the decision was taken in the early 1900s to reconstruct the buildings around the junction. The new buildings were designed by Sir Henry Tanner, whose symmetrical design of four quadrants was inspired by 18th century French architecture, especially that of Ange-Jacques Gabriel.
The ornate Beaux Arts details of the grand, colonnaded frontages that frame Oxford Circus so iconically are redolent of Parisian metropolitan architecture, so it is no surprise that the first building to be completed, in 1913, was called “Paris House”.
It was this building, on the south east corner of Oxford Circus, to which the UK subsidiary of the Spirella Corset Company lent its name during its long occupation during much of the 20th century. Initially riding on a wave of demand for individually designed corsetry, the rise and fall of Spirella reflected changing taste and fashion in underwear through the post-war years, from a peak in the 1950s to the company’s ultimate demise in the 1970s. By 1975, the Oxford Circus outlet was no longer in business.
However, following a refurbishment in early 2009, new tenant Tezenis moved in, picking up the baton and continuing this landmark’s historical association with fashion and lingerie.
Increased curb appeal by cleaning the façades
Returning to the site after a successful clean in early 2019 of Alitalia House, which sits opposite on the south west corner of Oxford Circus, Thomann-Hanry® were entrusted by property agents Savills with repeating the process at Spirella House. Following a detailed survey, the project entailed a full clean of the 500 sq. m. Portland stone frontage.
Carried out from our bespoke platform, years of accumulated grime were gently erased from the face of the Grade II listed building, revealing the attractive original white-grey hues of the underlying stonework. Gentle but swift, this extraordinary transformation was achieved in just four overnight work shifts using a process known as façade gommage®.
The patented technique projects fine powders under compressed air across the surfaces of the building, delicately rubbing and lifting away ingrained dirt. Completed without a single pole of scaffolding – and a minimal amount of water, used purely to process the cleaning residues – façade gommage® is unobtrusive, environmentally responsible and astonishingly quick.
An ideal system for retail shops; a solution for the expected loss in trade if working from scaffolding.
Delighted with the results, the Regional Facilities Manager from Savills, commented:
“Oxford Circus is a busy location. Given challenging trading conditions, it was more important than ever that cleaning and restoration works on the building should not in any way inconvenience or deter shoppers. By cleaning overnight, the impact on our tenants’ trading figures was negligible, enabling their flagship store to trade normally. The effect of the clean has been revelatory, presenting the building and, by extension, the client’s brand in the very best light.”