German Gymnasium, Kings Cross

Combining aesthetics and efficiency at the German Gymnasium

Glassolutions was awarded a £450,000 contract to provide new doors and windows for London’s German Gymnasium as part of its ambitious £5m renovation, in advance of its new incarnation as one of the city’s most prestigious new restaurants.


The German Gymnasium is a striking central London building located just a stone’s throw from Kings Cross and St. Pancras stations. Built in the 1860s for the German Gymnastics Society, the building was influential in the advancement of athletics in Britain, and hosted indoor events at London’s first Olympic Games in 1866. It is architecturally remarkable for its striking laminated timber roof – one of only two surviving examples in the country – and has been a listed building since the 1970s.

Originally famous as the first purpose-built gymnasium in England, the German Gymnasium ceased to be used for athletics in the early nineteenth century and has accommodated a variety of purposes since, including offices, storage and exhibitions. In November 2015 the building was relaunched by leading restaurant group D&D as one of the city’s most promising new eateries, boasting a café, two bars and an outdoor terrace as well as its sophisticated first-floor restaurant.

Following the success of the company’s work on the T5 Aga Khan building at Kings Cross, Glassolutions was appointed to the German Gymnasium renovation by main contractor BAM Construction. The brief was to manufacture and install thermally efficient windows and doors to complement the original features of the building, as part of its conversion into a restaurant.

Products used

As a renovation project, it was imperative that the new additions to the German Gymnasium were a suitable match for the building’s Grade II-listed status, as well as complementing the structure aesthetically. The building’s existing recessed four-pane sash windows were one of its most recognisable features; to create a close match for the originals, Glassolutions installed steel-framed thermally insulated Arte windows from Schueco-Jansen, providing continuity whilst helping to upgrade the German Gymnasium to meet the latest building regulations.

Modern standards for this historic building were also attained through the glazing specification. For the outer, Glassolutions installed 9.5mm laminate glass, heat strengthened for resilience and with superlative clarity due to its low iron content. Internal glazing comprised glass of the same specification, with a low-emissivity coating added to aid the building’s climate control and prevent heat loss, contributing to the glazing’s low U-value of 1.1. Additionally, the glazing features 90% argon-filled 16mm black warm edge spacer to minimise heat loss through the cavity.


Since its refurbishment and subsequent relaunch, the German Gymnasium building has received praise from many corners, with BAM calling it ‘exquisite’ and the Evening Standard describing the refurbishment as “imposing and exhilarating… a landmark restaurant in a killer location”.

Des Gunewardena, chairman and chief executive of D&D London, said: “We've watched and admired King’s Cross coming to life in recent years and are so excited to finally becoming part of it. We love this building and its history. It deserves an exciting life in the 21st century and we are going to do our best to give it that.”

John Foster, commercial manager at Glassolutions, said: “The German Gymnasium refurbishment was a fantastic project to be involved in. With such a rich history, as well as an exciting future ahead of it, it was really important for our work to help the building remain true to its period appearance. With our top-of-the-range specification, we’ve helped enable the Gymnasium to attain high levels of thermal efficiency whilst closely matching the aesthetics of its original glazing.”

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