British Embassy building completes in Warsaw
Tony Fretton Architects' design for a 4,300 sq m British Embassy building in Warsaw has been successfully delivered by the London and Warsaw offices of Mace group.
Set in its own grounds facing onto Ulica Kawalerii on one side and a park on the other in an area of
the city devoted to embassies, the building has a serene and formal quality.
The building is explicit in its conservation of energy; its
glass elevations function as the outer skin of a double façade, which provides substantial thermal
insulation in winter and relieves heat in the summer. The outer layer, delineated by pale bronze
aluminium mullions and mirror glass, reflects the sky and trees of the surrounding gardens. Behind
this is a more substantial façade of windows set between solid piers and spandrels in a modulated
composition of a similar palette. The pale polychromy of this arrangement is a distant relative of
the painted stucco buildings of the school of Schinkel, which can be seen across Europe from the
Hague to Oslo and in Warsaw itself.
The ground floor is reserved for public
activities and features a large space for exhibition and events, and a café that opens onto the
garden. Occupying the remainder of the ground floor is the area for Consular Section and UK
Border Agency complete with a public waiting area accessed via its own entrance from a route
through the grounds. The administrative offices of the Embassy are located on the first and
second floor. With an acoustically absorbent ceiling, carpeted floor and double façade, the offices
are places of calm efficiency. Workspaces are amply lit with daylight from the glass facades and
two generous planted courtyards in the centre of the plan. In the attic at the second floor is the
Ambassador’s suite, which looks out on either side to extensive roof terraces.
Each floor has its own identity through the association between its parts and their relations to the
outside world. Public spaces in the ground floor flow from one to another and into the grounds.
Open office space in the first floor is given a degree of separation by the interior courts. In the
comparatively small Ambassador’s suite the offices will have the scale and quality of cabinets, a
theme that continues in the small spaces for sitting that are cut out from the wide areas of planting
filling the roof terraces on either side. In its larger form the roof planting relates the terraces to the
grounds around the Embassy and the park beyond. With these simple gestures, the Embassy
maintains its role in the culture and fabric of Warsaw