The Dixon Hotel
The Dixon is the latest addition to Marriott’s Autograph Collection and is partly housed within a three-storey court building constructed in 1905. Following an extensive renovation and carefully considered extension, the historic building has been transformed into a 193-room boutique hotel including 14 suites, two meeting and event spaces, a gym, restaurant and bar.
The hotel opened in early January and takes inspiration from the character and culture of its neighbourhood to create a one-of-a-kind experience.
The hotel’s design is a careful blend of old and new. Design details include simple brickwork, large windows and modern furniture from British designers alongside more classic pieces and curated artworks from local artists. Local art will also be supported through the hotel’s cultural programme.
The hotel takes its name from John Dixon Butler, the man responsible for designing the Grade-II listed Magistrates’ Court and police station over a century ago. The building remained in use until 2013.
The project is the latest for Dominvs Group. McAleer & Rushe was the project’s main contractor. The design was overseen by twenty2degrees, with input from Rani Ahluwalia of Dominvs and M Studio.
The renovation of the existing structure and the construction of the extension has been led by McAleer & Rushe. Contracts Director Mark Diamond spoke to Premier Hospitality about the project and some of its challenges:
“We have a longstanding relationship with Dominvs and this is the fourth hotel we have delivered for them, with three more on site and a number of others in the pipeline.
“The existing building on the site is the former Tower Bridge Courthouse. It’s a building that was built in 1905 and was in use as a courthouse and police station right up to its acquisition by our client. We have part demolished the existing building and the listed elements have been refurbished back to their former glory whilst we’ve also built a large rear extension.
“Our first task though was to obtain planning permission for the redevelopment and this proved to be a very onerous exercise. There was a large rear yard where we have built the extension but for the last 110 years that was just a yard. We also had to be very sympathetic to the listed parts of the building and ensure the fabric wasn’t changed. It was important that the new building complimented the existing one.
“Beyond that at the demolition and refurbishment phase there was the element of the unknown and the requirement of the conversion wasn’t fully established until we started the demolition works and could peel back the layers of the property. For example, the existing floor slabs in the building are made of clinker concrete, which has very poor fire protection properties so we had to come up with a solution to introduce additional fire protection to the structure.”
“It was a very important project for us especially as Dominvs are a longstanding client of ours who we’re doing repeat business with and this was arguably our toughest project to date for them. Like all of our other projects with Dominvs they had entrusted us to not only deliver on the design and build but to obtain the planning consent as well.
“We are so proud of the finished property and also delighted that we were able to complete such a challenging and demanding project 9 weeks early.”
“It was a very important project. They are a longstanding client of ours who we’re doing repeat business with. This was arguably our toughest project to date for this client. They trusted us to deliver this project, not just the design and build but the planning as well.”
Joe Stella, creative director of twenty2degrees said: “The public areas provided us with a unique starting point allowing us to draw inspiration from the history of the building and the era it was constructed, and to join the vast number of dots linking the journey between old and new.
“Inevitably it became more apparent as we embarked on our design for the interiors of the hotel that this inspiration was not going to come from a specific period in the building’s life, but rather a layered collage from the last century.
“As a result there are a number of refurbished original features which now sit side by side with very contemporary details. Traditional British Edwardian oak finishes provide a sharp contrast to the tactile specialist metallic finishes and FF&E that reference a number of design periods over the last century.”
The double height Grade II Listed entrance lobby with its original terrazzo floor, oak panelled walls, and restored roof light, stands proudly as an imposing backdrop for the hotel interiors. Contemporary furnishings are coupled with eclectic artworks inspired by the surrounding area that adorn the back wall of the ornate sweeping staircase in the lobby. This contrast between the old court house and new hotel sets the tone from the moment guests arrive. The fit out involved a number of talented artisans, specialist joiners and furniture and product designers throughout the project.
One in particular was an artisanal metalwork company specialising in liquid metal finishes, who were able to breathe new life into some of the original elements of the building. For example, the company used specialist techniques to recondition the original holding cell benches to great effect. These oak benches have been cut down for use as credenza counter tops for the lift lobbies of the hotel. When applied with a liquid brass top coat, the expletives scratched into the timber by the former ‘guests’ of the building are accentuated and immortalised as footnotes to the grand Edwardian architecture.
Joe Stella said: “The celebration of these annotations made by inmates awaiting trial reinforces the duality of the Dixon’s interiors, mixing ‘a little bit of grit with the glamour!’”
The same metalwork company has also developed a specialist treatment for the lift core wall that greets guests on the ground floor before they travel up to the accommodation levels of the hotel. This cladding features the original keys from the courthouse, police station and holding cells that were handed over to the client when they took possession of the building. Cast in brass, this wall conserves the history of the building as part of the new interior, whilst providing an oblique reference to its new function as a hotel.
Formerly the building’s courtroom, the hotel’s Courthouse Bar is a warm, relaxing and light filled space. The double height interior has been opened up with the refurbishment of the roof light which allows light to spill into the space, washing across the original oak panelled walls.
Joe Stella commented: “As with the hotel lobby, we have had to respect and retain the original architectural features when managing the transformation of a former courtroom into the hotel’s main bar.
“In addition to the original architectural features that we chose to retain and refurbish, we have also reused a number of original oak panelled components from the courthouse and integrated these into some of our casegoods.
“The transformation of these original timber panels into display tables and the housing of some of the new leather banquette seating assists in blurring the boundary between the original building and new interiors.”
The original oak canopy that the judge once sat under has a new role as the ‘crown above the jewel’ – the marble clad sunken bar. In addition to the original architectural features, the artwork selected for this space captures the provenance of the original building with a provocative nod to the previous occupants of this room in particular.
The communal spaces throughout the building take their design cues from the hotel entrance lobby.
The existing oak panelling of the old courthouse is contrasted with metal, brick, and specialist paint finishes which are paired with the contemporary furniture and a mix of eclectic artwork that give the hotel its identity. The hotel’s meeting room is situated in the second original courthouse at first floor level.
Joe Stella said: “In order to facilitate the new meeting room function, the original layout of the courthouse formed by half height panelled walls was removed to give way to an open plan space.
“As a subtle reference to the original form of the courthouse, we re-interpreted the plan of the room in the new carpet design. This design accurately represents the location of the original walls and divisions within the space.”
He added that there are a huge number of original Edwardian architectural features that had to be respected during the development of the interior design for The Dixon. One particular detail which is relatively dominant and an important part of the scheme is the timber panelling in the hotel entrance lobby. Rather than ignoring this as a part of the architectural background to the new hotel the designers were keen to pay homage to this detail throughout the building.
In the execution of this design principle, the designers felt that it was felt fitting to incorporate feature wall panelling as part of the guest room interiors.
The guest room floor is split between two wings – the existing wing, which is housed in the Grade II listed Edwardian Building (the former Tower Bridge Magistrates Court) – and the new wing, which houses the guest rooms in the new extension on the north side of the hotel.
Within the existing wing of the hotel there are a number of rooms that have original Edwardian features such as high ceilings, original decorative covings and fireplaces.
Joe Stella said: “As a result, despite having a number of design elements that cross over from the new wing to the existing wing, the original architectural features have allowed us to create a distinct difference between the two areas of the hotel.
“In those rooms that do not have any original architectural features (mostly within the new wing), we have introduced a feature timber panelled wall which has been designed to mimic the same detail as the original Edwardian oak panelling seen in the public areas.”
These rooms are very contemporary spaces with grey timber case goods, bright fabrics and blackened steel/black oak accents.
This combination of contemporary materials and colours mixed with Edwardian details, finished with art works that are a montage of grainy black and white photographs with vibrant touches, has meant that the guest rooms are inspired by the various eras of the building.
As well as influencing the design, the building’s history is also referenced in the restaurant and bar. Provisioners restaurant sees The Dixon team up with leading restauranteur Clive Watson. The restaurant is a casual and inviting space with a nod to European café culture. The menu is a collection of fresh, uncomplicated and varied dishes. The Courtroom Bar includes an eclectic drinks offering from locally produced spirits to artisan coffee brews.
Rani Ahluwalia, Dominvs and Creative Director of M Studio London, said:
“In order to build Provisioners, we needed to complete a conversion of the yard that originally housed the court’s holding cells. There were 22 cells in total, two of which have been retained and restored in the centre of the restaurant. The original positions of the other 20 cells have been marked on the terrazzo floor.
“Additional works included the restoration of two 100-year-old lanterns, overarching the two previous courtrooms, which are now the Courtroom Bar and one of our meeting rooms, The Chambers. We also built two mansards on the front of the building, in keeping with the original architecture, which provided an additional extension of the bedrooms.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this project, particularly with the listed elements in mind. It’s inspired much more creativity in the way that we honour old whilst exploring the new. Every project is a new opportunity to create something beautiful and exceed expectations in design, I always aim to inspire through design while paying tribute to the local neighbourhood and its offering. Inspirations are taken from everyday objects, from travel and for this project in particular, from the history of the building.”
The Dixon is a hugely exciting addition to one the capitals prime culture hubs. As well as providing guests with a luxurious stay, the hotel will play a crucial role to promoting local art to a wider audience.
To find out more, please visit www.thedixon.co.uk.
CHC Group Ltd
CHC Group Ltd commenced trading as “Craigavon Heating Centre” in January 1969 delivering heating installation services to the domestic and commercial market. Since that time, the business has rapidly expanded and diversified, becoming CHC Group Limited in 1997, acquiring FF Food Engineering in 2005 (now trading as F3 Engineering Limited) and expanding into the Irish market in 2006, to offer a full range of mechanical and electrical installation and maintenance services.
Today CHC Group Ltd operates a turnover of £19m per annum and employs over 130 employees which include 75 highly skilled in-house engineers across a range of specialist disciplines – many of whom have progressed through apprenticeship to become full time members of the team. The contract retention rate within CHC Group Ltd is second to none in the industry and this is testament to the levels of quality service delivered by the operations teams, ensuring the continued development of CHC Group Ltd into the future.
Recently, CHC Group Ltd has been involved with the work on The Dixon 5* Marriot Hotel in London, after being awarded the contract for the building services installation works. The work took place in the former Tower Bridge Magistrates Court, which has a listed façade, and included the strip out & installation of new services to the original building & the new build extension.
The Deluxe Group
The Deluxe Group won the Bespoke Joinery package for all public areas of The Dixon. The Deluxe Group were appointed by McAleer & Rushe and were required to deliver quality finishes and detailing in keeping with the very special building, while retaining a welcoming and warm feel for guests.
Colm Connolly of The Deluxe Group commented: “The company was delighted to deliver this substantial contract for a fellow Northern Irish company. It was a demanding brief, but thankfully all aspects of the project went well, with no major issues. The site was well-organised, and our team benefitted from excellent coordination with both the hotel client’s design team and the Main Contractor.”
Great demand for the services of The Deluxe Group has seen the overall workforce increase to some 150 people over the last three years. The company operates out of a state-of-the-art bespoke joinery manufacturing and design development facility in Portadown.
Colm added: “Our people are doing extremely well, especially in London where we have gained an enviable reputation for delivering luxury hospitality, residential and workplace bespoke joinery contracts for well-established main contractors and developers.”
The Deluxe Group is just completing a very large interior joinery scheme for another major international hotel chain in another London landmark building.
SCS Technologies Ltd
SCS – one of the UK’s leading hospitality system integrators of choice, recently embarked on an exciting project to provide and enhance in-room guest facing technology at the prestigious Dixon Hotel – The newest addition to the Marriot Autograph Collection. The Dixon is a new hotel that captures all the culture, creativity and variety of London SE1. A Grade II listed building that dates from 1906 and is steeped in history, it exudes style and charisma.
Key to the provision of such an edgy, eclectic design aesthetic and a boutique vibe is a top-quality television system. Quality and experience matter – so with over 28 years’ experience in the hospitality sector, SCS were delighted to be chosen to work on such an awe-inspiring hotel.
Guests can enjoy five-star technology with stylish and super slim 49” Samsung EE690 Full HD SMART LED TV’s wall mounted to minimise each guest bedrooms hardware footprint and a fully interactive, personalised experience, all powered by Nevaya-TV’s industry leading cloud-based platform interfaced with the hotel PMS offering guests enhanced features such as view-bill, and express check-out.
Providing guests with a true home-from-home experience, allowing guests to watch what they want, when they want – Nevaya-Cast has been installed with its one-step Chromecast authentication, to compliment the in-room guest experience allowing users to cast their own content from their personal devices (such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer) quickly and intuitively onto the screens of their in-room TV’s, whilst going about their usual business on their devices.
To learn more about Samsung hospitality TVs, Nevaya-TV, Hospitality Certified Nevaya-Cast, Installation and Maintenance Services or how to empower your guests with our unique Consultation Process, get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0800 3777 485.