By Sarah O’Beirne, Principle Cleaning
Famous, high-profile buildings like The Walkie Talkie and The Gherkin in London require a special approach to cleaning, not just for the health and safety of those visiting and working inside them, but to meet the expectations of the world at large.
These architectural landmarks reflect the prestige both of the capital and their corporate tenants, which means they must maintain a pristine appearance. Spring is a good time to burnish external paving and decking with steam cleaning equipment or jet washers, and pay glass surfaces special attention to ensure they turn a sparkling face to the world.
These notable buildings often have high value fabrics and finishes, such as stone or wood floors, that require specialist treatment. Often warranties depend on correct cleaning techniques and proper planned maintenance. And like most of London’s major corporate buildings, they incorporate acres of glass that must be kept gleaming at all times. It’s quite a challenge.
Principle Cleaning Services is responsible for keeping over 200 buildings clean and shiny, including 20 Fenchurch Street (aka the Walkie Talkie) and 30 St Mary Axe (aka The Gherkin). The unique challenges of the Walkie Talkie include a vast glazed Sky Garden dome, which has to be cleaned using a cherry picker and abseilers for the underside, while the exterior is accessed by a mobile, high-access reach-and-wash unit. The building’s ‘top-heavy’ construction requires the abseiling team to pin themselves to its outer upper wall in order to reach the cleaning surfaces.
Inside the building are a number of escalators which are maintained on a daily basis using the innovative REN system, then periodically deep cleaned using the heavy duty Rosemor machine. This approach is like brushing your teeth daily, then visiting the hygienist on a periodic basis to remove the build-up that can’t be reached by daily brushing.
Meanwhile, Principle has been servicing The Gherkin since 2010. The company maintains all the common areas of the building, including the external plaza, which is one of the busiest areas in London – especially during the summer months. The main entrance, lifts, lobbies, and all 108 toilet blocks and washroom areas are included, and Principle also manages the building’s waste.
The Gherkin is a prime example of where planned maintenance is essential to preserve the appearance of an expensive asset. The high gloss stone floor in the lift lobbies and washrooms, for example, requires ongoing treatment to maintain its shine. So diverse are the needs of the multi-tenanted building that Principle employs a dedicated site manager who remains permanently on site, controlling the horizontal and vertical cleaning operations, liaising with on-site supervisors and housekeepers, and maintaining close communication with the building’s facilities team.
Like all office premises, prestigious buildings benefit from planned maintenance cleans in addition to the daily cleaning routines. Known as ‘periodics’, these ensure that high-use areas such as kitchens, washrooms, hard floors and carpets are kept as pristine as the manufacturer intended. Proactive cleaning in waste areas helps to prevent bad odours from developing and deters pests from taking up residence.
Buildings with challenging cleaning needs require a flexible approach. Principle’s Hybrid programme, for example, allows for cleaning and housekeeping tasks to be performed throughout the day, with the option to build planned maintenance cleaning into daily routines.