Sanderson Hotel (formerly Sanderson House)


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
49-57 Berners Street, London, W1T 3NG


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Statutory Address:
49-57 Berners Street, London, W1T 3NG

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
City of Westminster (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Company headquarters with showrooms, offices and studios, now hotel. 1957-60 by Reginald Uren of Slater, Moberly and Uren, for Arthur Sanderson and Sons; structural engineer WA Mitchell, interior designer Beverley Pick, landscape architect Philip Hicks, artwork by Jupp Dernback-Mayen and John Piper. Converted and refurbished 2001 by Denton Corker Marshall with interior design by Philippe Starck.

Reasons for Designation

The Sanderson Hotel, built as Sanderson House in 1957-60 by Reginald Uren of Slater, Moberly and Uren, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: an outstanding work by an important mid-C20 architect, applying the International Modernist idiom to a large-scale commercial building with exceptional rigour and finesse; * Artistic interest: one of the best British applications of the US concept of the 'art building', with artworks by Jupp Dernback-Mayen and John Piper skilfully incorporated into the overall architectural programme; * Historic interest: built as the headquarters Arthur Sanderson and Sons, one of the UK's leading firms of decorative designers and manufacturers during the mid-C20.


The firm of Sanderson was established in 1860 by Arthur Sanderson, an importer of luxury European wallpapers. It transferred its operations from Islington to Marylebone in 1865, and by 1869 was commissioning its own designs in addition to its imported wares. In the course of the C20, Sandersons established itself as one of London's most fashionable suppliers of wallpapers, textiles and paints. New showrooms and offices, designed by Sir Albert Richardson, were built in Wells Street in the early 1930s, but by the mid-50s the company - granted a Royal Warrant in 1951 after its papers had been used to decorate the Royal Festival Hall - was ready to build on a larger scale. The architects Slater, Moberly and Uren, who had lately completed the flagship John Lewis store on Oxford Street, were commissioned to design a new headquarters and showroom building to replace Sandersons' original premises in Berners Street. The design was influenced by US corporate architecture such as the Seagram and Lever buildings in New York, while the close collaboration between principal architect Reginald Uren, landscape architect Phillip Hicks, interior designer Beverley Pick and artists John Piper and Jupp Dernbach-Mayern places it in the Bauhaus-inspired tradition of the 'art building'. Work commenced in 1957 and was completed in time for the company's centenary in 1960. Sandersons finally vacated the site in 1992, and in 2001 the building was converted into a hotel by architects Denton Corker Marshall and interior designer Philippe Starck.

Reginald Uren (1906-88) was born in New Zealand, and trained in London under Charles Holden. He made his name in 1933 by winning the competition for the new Hornsey Town Hall with a pioneering Dudok-inspired Modernist design; in 1936 he joined the partnership of Slater and Moberly, surveyors to the Berners estate, whose previous commissions included the Bourne and Hollingsworth store on Oxford Street (1925-7). The firm's later works include the Peter Jones store on Sloane Square (1936-9, with William Crabtree and CH Reilly) and the abovementioned John Lewis building on Oxford Street (1939-55).


MATERIALS: in-situ concrete frame, with columns placed on a 27ft grid. Curtain-walled exterior with hollow aluminium mullions carrying the services. Solid areas (to ends of main block and to rear) faced in brick, Portland stone and glazed faience.

PLAN: the building comprises three main wings set around a central courtyard. The wings are only 45ft deep to allow for maximum daylight penetration to the showrooms. The front (east) range to Berners Street is of seven storeys, with an nine-storey tower block at right-angles to the south and a lower five-storey wing parallel to this to the north. The west side of the courtyard is enclosed by a three-storey link range overlooking Wells Mews.

As originally built, the middle part of the building, including the courtyard, formed part of the vehicle circulation, with the central garden forming an island between 'in' and 'out' routes which led via ramps to the basement car park. To the south was the main retail entrance, with lobby, lifts and stair rising up to the showrooms. The latter, totalling 34,000 sq ft, occupied much of the first, second and third floors and included - in the tower area - a double-height display space surrounded by a gallery. A second entrance to the north gave access to the trade counter, with a separate stair and lifts behind leading directly to the offices and studios on the upper floors.

Under the hotel conversion of 2001, the whole of the ground floor was enclosed to form an enlarged lobby, bar and restaurant; vehicle access is now only possible from Wells Mews to the rear. The open-plan first floor was subdivided to form a spa, gym and guest bedrooms, with further bedrooms occupying the whole of the floors above. Features belonging to this phase are too recent to form part of the building's special interest.

EXTERIORS: the 230ft front to Berners Street is a continuous sheer slab of curtain walling that 'floats' above the recessed ground floor. A 4ft 6in module determines the proportions. Windows are aluminium-framed sliding sashes, with spandrel panels of opaque fired glass - turquoise on the first floor, grey above. Sharply-profiled aluminium mullions run unbroken from the first to the sixth floor. The seventh floor is set back as a penthouse with a floating cornice above. The entrance is off-centre to the left, on the axis of the tower, and is marked by a deep cantilevered canopy and lettered fascia; the glazing immediately behind is set slightly deeper between the mullions to give further emphasis, especially in oblique views. The ground-floor columns, set 9ft back behind the cantilevered upper storeys, are sheathed in black Kellymount marble; the spaces between are now infilled with frameless glass panels (not of special interest). The service stairwells at either end are faced in Portland stone, with green slate panels marking the exit doors.

The tower block and the north wing are treated in a similar fashion to the Berners Street range. In contrast to the crystalline purity of the front elevation, the rear elevation to Wells Mews presents a zigzag building line and an assortment of different shapes and materials, with blue-green faience cladding to the ends of the tower block and the north range, and brown brick used for the lower elements between. In the centre are two large entrances to the car park, and to the left is a delivery bay with a canopied pedestrian entrance alongside.

INTERIORS: the entrance lobby was remodelled and much enlarged during the 2001 conversion. Its principal surviving feature is an abstract marble and glass mosaic by Jupp Dernbach-Mayen, which clads the outer wall of the lift enclosure. Affixed to this is a plaque commemorating the laying of the foundation stone by Ivan Sanderson on 1st May 1957. The remaining fittings here belong to the Philippe Starck scheme, and are too recent to form part of the special interest of the building.

To the rear of the lobby is the principal stair, a flying structure with open timber treads and a slender balustrade of polished aluminium. Behind is a large (32ft by 21ft) back-lit stained glass mural designed by John Piper - his largest secular work - and executed by Patrick Reyntiens, displaying stylised plant forms against blocks of brilliant colour. The stair rises only as far as the first floor; more modest concrete stairs at the ends of the building give access to the upper levels. The former showrooms, offices and studios here have been thoroughly remodelled to form the hotel's spa, gym and guest rooms, and contain no known features of special interest.

At the heart of the building is a courtyard, surrounded by marble-clad columns like those at the front, and now glazed in to form an open-air extension to the hotel's restaurant and bar. The central feature - restored during the 2001 alterations - is an 'architectural garden' designed by Philip Hicks with sculpture by Dernbach-Mayen. The design is of Japanese inspiration, with a raised area containing gravel, moss and boulders surrounded by slate paving, planting and a rectangular fountain pool. To the rear is a mural featuring slabs of polished grey marble shot through with veins of coloured mosaic. To the fore is a marble plinth bearing a bowl-like sculpture in polished black basalt.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Nairn, I, Modern Buildings in London, (1964), 33-4
Pevsner, N, Cherry, B, The Buildings of England: London 3 North West, (1991), 631
'The Builder' in , (8 April 1960)
'The Builder' in The Builder, (11 November 1960)
'Architectural Review' in , (June 1960)
'Architect and Building News' in , (4 May 1960)
'Architecture d'aujourd'hui' in Nuits glamour et cantine de luxe, (September/October 2000)
'Architect's Journal' in , (3 March 1960)
'The Builder' in The Builder, (1 August 1958)
'Contract Journal' in , (25 February 1960)
'Interbuild' in , (March 1960)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 08 Mar 2007
Reference: IOE01/16325/22
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Anthony Rau. Source Historic England Archive
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