The Crit­tall come­back

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Interiors -

The in­dus­trial in­ven­tion used on the Ti­tanic is now in vogue again. Tory King­don ex­plores the lat­est looks ‘You can zone things with­out lock­ing them away’

The most com­mon fea­ture of mod­ern prop­erty de­sign in re­cent years has un­doubt­edly been the open-plan lay­out: the de­sire for large multi-func­tional spa­ces flooded with light rather than smaller, sep­a­rate rooms. There is, how­ever, a limit to the num­ber of walls that can be de­mol­ished be­fore your home starts ap­pear­ing like the Tate Mod­ern’s Tur­bine Hall. Ap­peal­ingly spa­cious? Yes. Live­able in? Per­haps not.

This is why tra­di­tional Crit­tall is stag­ing a come­back – and not just as win­dows, but as walls and doors too. De­vel­op­ers, de­sign­ers and canny home own­ers are us­ing these steel­framed par­ti­tions to cre­ate floor plans that feel both light and in­clu­sive but re­tain an el­e­ment of sep­a­ra­tion.

The sturdy, slim-pro­file frames, as well as look­ing rather good, tap into the cur­rent trend for all things in­dus­trial. The man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nique was in­tro­duced in the mid-19th cen­tury when Sir Henry Besse­mer de­vel­oped a process for hot-rolling steel. It was in 1860 that Fran­cis Henry Crit­tall, an iron­mon­ger in Es­sex, first used this method to cre­ate steel-framed win­dows. Crit­tall was trade­marked and con­tin­ued to ex­pand into man­u­fac­tur­ing in the United States, China and Europe.

The strength and dura­bil­ity of the metal frames trumped tra­di­tional wooden ones for in­dus­trial build­ings. The mal­leabil­ity of the al­loy also meant that, by the Thir­ties, Crit­tall was be­ing used in a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent build­ings, adapt­ing to more in­no­va­tive art deco and cu­bist de­signs.

Crit­tall was used on the Ti­tanic and can still be found in the Houses of Par­lia­ment and the Tower of Lon­don.

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