Francis Berrington Crittall purchased an ironmongery in Braintree, set on the southeastern coast of England, in 1849. When his son took over the business in 1883 he soon began to implement new practices, and 1884 saw the production of metal windows for the first time. Today, Crittall windows are readily recognisable.
Associate Director at award-winning architects Stiff + Trevillion, Chris Eaton recently spoke to Warehouse Home about the practice's residential work. And he discussed, in particular, a strong commitment to close collaboration with every client to achieve an outcome entirely individual to each property.
With that in mind, it might then seem contradictory, he concedes, that so many of the firm's residential projects have incorporated Crittall windows. And notably, none of these projects has been an industrial building. But there have clearly been sound reasons for installing this iconic glazing treatment in every one of these properties. It is a timeless design. "Contemporary glazing can age very easily," explains Eaton, "but Crittall windows don't date, they create a good balance between traditional and contemporary and don't look out of place with other period features." The construction of this fenestration sets it apart too. "The slender steel frames are robust but also strike an elegant aesthetic. And by altering the dimensions of the panels, you achieve radically different looks." An entire wall can be replaced with Crittall windows to divide space while maintaining a visual connection, a smaller glazing panel can be inserted above a doorway to complement sash windows and bring in more light. "We first incorporated this glazing into a residential project in 2005. I was inspired by a bakery in Copenhagen," reflects Eaton. "Our recent projects include a family home in North Kensington, London. And the industrial window style is still admired."
(Left) In Ealing, west London, Stiff + Trevillion was challenged with bringing an industrial aesthetic into a large family home filled with antiques and original art. Here, concrete, steel and metro tiles successfully sit in perfect harmony with parquet flooring. Crittall windows on the exterior of this home and internally to serve as a connecting idea for old and new elements. They're at once traditional and modern. So while glass doors serve to open up the interiors, they are also the right choice to suit the homeowners' lifestyle and their eclectic decorative tastes. And we would suggest that they are this property's defining feature.
(Below) This project, a family home originally constructed in the mid-1880s and sited within a London Conservation area, is the final result of an extensive collaboration between homeowner and architectural firm. As well as fully restructuring the internal floorplates, Stiff + Trevillion conceived a new basement level, a two-storey side return and an extension to the rear of the property. In using stucco together with a London stock brick, the firm ensured that the additions to this property complemented the neighbouring properties. A spacious, light-filled family home was the striking result. Crittall-style windows to the rear of the property flood its interiors with natural daylight.
(Bottom) The narrow façade of this west London house hides an interior of surprisingly large volumes. It is a retained façade. Behind it, the intelligently reconstructed floorplan has created generous new ceiling heights. And it is the spaciousness of this family home that Stiff + Trevillion have focused on emphasising further with sliding doors and glazed internal screens. The inclusion of distinctive Crittall windows in the property's exterior wall acts as a beautiful framing for views of the two-level patio garden in the kitchen's dining area. A set of double factory style doors is a striking focal point in this part of the home's ground floor too.