Kensington Odeon Cinema, London, W8

Delancey Minerva & Lodha

4.5 years in 3 phases


Kensington and Chelsea, London, W8

Location & Overview

Initially owned and developed by Minerva / Delancey JV, the site was subsequently sold to Lodha for residential redevelopment. The 5,000m2 iconic Odeon Kensington Cinema was one of the most high-profile, prime development sites in London, surrounded by prestigious residential properties to the full perimeter and a bank directly adjacent. This was a sensitive project for both the client and council, requiring an attentive, professional approach to this landmark demolition project. Before hard demolition began, the Museum of London needed assistance in providing access for a full photographic survey of the original 1930 Art Deco building, after we had stripped away the 1970s refurbishment. Demolition of multiple separate structures was required to create one large site, following the soft strip and removal of a vast amount of asbestos.

Work, Challenges & Solutions

Art deco façade retention and extensive party wall propping with subsequent 1,700t of temporary works to facilitate a 22m deep basement excavation. Secant wall piling was used to create a four-level deep basement box with a split-level installation of a gantry.
The blinding of the new basement slab and partial basement raft slab, including the core base, was undertaken along with waterproofing and drainage. A ramp was created to the basement for plant movement and the avoidance of digging well holes into the ground floor slab.
The enabling work involved isolations, disconnections, and protection of a UKPN substation within the basement, which required protection throughout the demolition operations until its relocation on the ground floor. Soft strip was undertaken, followed by the retention of the historic architectural features and extensive asbestos removal.
The demolition of three buildings, including the former Kensington Odeon, the adjacent Post Office, and Whitlock House. Our in-house temporary works team designed the scheme to ensure extensive party walls were retained. Façade retention was designed for the Art Deco Odeon entrance.
The Civil Engineering team undertook the pile probing and obstruction removal ready for the installation of a 1,050mm dia. secant piled wall and capping beam. The piles were a combination of rotary and CFA’s, totalling 529 in number. A split-level basement dig to a depth of 33m was undertaken, with 75,000 cubic tonnes of earth removed via a 170t temporary logistics gantry, followed by the installation of a complex scale 3-level basement propping scheme.
The construction of the basement was one of the largest in London at the time, with the biggest section at 5 storeys. The construction included: 5 reinforced concrete cores using the traditional method with peri shutters, a quadruple height cinema space with the installation of steel transfer trusses, a reinforced concrete access ramp to the podium area, one-sided lined walls using peri A-frames, 1,500mm thick raft slab, a reinforced concrete car stacker, slabs built using the Hunnebeck Topec panel falsework system due to high soffits and the installation of a grade 3 waterproofing system.
Structural investigations showed the auditorium was a ‘2 pin box structure’, which presented a potential stability issue. A bracing scheme was designed and installed to stabilise the auditorium during dismantling, as wind loading would have caused the building to sway without it.
The extent of the asbestos removed from the project far exceeded the quantities in the R&D survey provided, this was due to 1970s refurbishment failing to note everything that was installed.
The basement structure was built around an extensive basement propping solution. Due to logistical constraints, a quarter of the structure was built without the assistance of a tower crane, under an access gantry.
At peak programme there were up to 100 vehicle movements per day, requiring extensive traffic management to protect the public and site personnel.
Due to our excellent relationship with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea local council and our knowledge of the site, we were able to facilitate the change in working hours. This not only enlarged the transport window on a logistically constrained site, and increase transportation by 20%, but also provided a significant programme advantage.


We were awarded Performance Beyond Compliance from Considerate Constructors Scheme.
42,000 man-hours were required for this project which was carried out without an incident or accident.
Throughout the course of the works, we successfully reached over 30 complex party wall agreements.
We reduced the programme by increasing productivity through the revision of the logistics strategy, using top-down construction to facilitate additional areas, and allowing the basement to be excavated from 2 grab locations.
Effective sustainability and circular economy measures were carried out - with over 195,414t of waste generated, we diverted 99.9% away from landfill, gaining BREEAM credits, with 96.6% of the diverted waste being reused or recycled.
During the soft strip, we retained interior architectural features, which were dismantled and carefully stored off-site, whilst salvaging external architectural features for re-use in the completed development.
Reuse of a piling mat and stone to create a laydown and processing yard from other John F Hunt sites, crushing materials for use on-site, and the retention of 2000 stones, including marble and granite, for re-use on the future development.
Rainwater harvesting for site water requirements.
Reuse of expired PPE as planters to increase biodiversity.