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Alternatives for Thatched Roofs
A Case Study at Chessington World of Adventures, Great Britain

Simon Prince, Manager of The Lapa Company
edited by Monika Fiby, MLA, ZooLex Zoo Design Organization
all images by The Lapa Company, 2007
September 2007

Thatched Roof to the Holiday Inn Entrance at Chessington World of Adventures

In early 2007 The Lapa Company was contacted by the Alison Pike Partnership with a view to discussing the creation of a thatched entrance canopy for a new Holiday Inn being constructed at Chessington World of Adventures. The new hotel is right at the entrance to the Theme and Safari park and as such the hotel was designed with an African Safari Theme in mind. The focal point of the Safari theme was the creation of a thatched main entrance for the hotel. The roof area to be covered was approximately 200 square meters.

The Lapa Company acted in a consultative role and was asked to recommend alternative methods of creating the desired effect. One key consideration in detailing options for the client was the fact that the thatched roof was to be laid on a Kingspan substructure and therefore did not need to be watertight in its own right. This meant that four alternative thatch coverings could be considered.

Option 1 - Genuine Traditional Thatch

The first option was to thatch the roof in a traditional manner with comb wheat reed. This material is the closest local match to traditional African thatching grass. A genuine thatch roof is watertight in its own right and has a life expectancy of 20 to 25 years. On installation the finish would be gold in colour and would weather to a light grey over time.

In this case, a genuine thatch roof would have taken 4 to 5 weeks to install and would have required a yearly fire retardant treatment throughout the life of the roof.

Option 2 - Endureed Synthetic Thatch

Endureed is the market leading synthetic thatching system. It is made from a pvc type material that accurately mirrors the traditional African thatch. The Endureed system includes eave and gable finishes which ensure that the finished roof looks like it has been thatched in a traditional manner. The thatch plastic material and the binding stainless steel are both recyclable.

Endureed has a life expectancy of 30 to 50 years and a class A fire retardant rating. It does not need additional applications of fire retardant. On installation the thatch is a golden colour and fades to a light grey (to replicate real thatch) over time. In this case, the Endureed installation could be complete in 2 weeks.

Option 3 - Cape Reed Thatch Tiles

The third alternative was to install a Cape reed thatch tile roof. The tiles are made from an African thatching reed bound into tiles. Once installed the roof has a distinctive ridged appearance. The life expectancy of Cape reed tiles on this application would have been 6 to 10 years. The thatching would require treatment with a fire retardant every two years. The project would have taken up to 2 ½ weeks to complete.

Option 4 - Heather Tiles

The final option was to install heather thatch tiles. These tiles are a dark finish and give a far more rustic appearance. The life expectancy would be 10 to 15 years. This thatching requires an application of fire retardant every year. With this material the project would have taken 2 ½ weeks to complete.


After submission of quotations and samples the client decided to proceed with the Endureed® option. The synthetic system was selected for a number of reasons:

  1. Durability
  2. Speed of installation
  3. Finished effect
  4. Cost
  5. Fire retardant
The cost of the synthetic thatch is similar to that of traditional natural thatch, but the additional benefits include:
  • Extremely low or no maintenance
  • Fully fire retarded (insurance friendly)
  • Easy fit, no thatchers required
  • Quick fit, can be applied straight onto baton
  • Non-fade colour
  • Life expectancy 25 years plus
  • Various styles such as African, European and Asian leaf effects

Project details

200 square meters of Endureed® thatched roof, laid on a Kingspan (insulated) substructure
Architect: Alison Pike Partnership
Main Contractor: Speymill
Completion on time and in budget during August 2007


Simon Prince, Manager of The Lapa Company
Phone: +44-1732-884030

Endureed® thatched roof at Chessington World of Adventures

Endureed® thatched roof on Holiday Inn Entrance

Endureed® thatched roof at Port Lympne

Endureed® thatched roof at Port Lympne

Endureed® thatched roof, eave detail

Endureed® thatched roof on Necker Island

Revised 2017-05-17
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