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Friday 23 Oct 2009

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 ofthe city devoted to embassies, the building has a serene and formal quality.

The building is explicit in its conservation of energy; itsglass elevations function as the outer skin of a double façade, which provides substantial thermalinsulation in winter and relieves heat in the summer. The outer layer, delineated by pale bronzealuminium mullions and mirror glass, reflects the sky and trees of the surrounding gardens. Behindthis is a more substantial façade of windows set between solid piers and spandrels in a modulatedcomposition of a similar palette. The pale polychromy of this arrangement is a distant relative ofthe painted stucco buildings of the school of Schinkel, which can be seen across Europe from theHague to Oslo and in Warsaw itself.

The ground floor is reserved for publicactivities and features a large space for exhibition and events, and a café that opens onto thegarden. Occupying the remainder of the ground floor is the area for Consular Section and UKBorder Agency complete with a public waiting area accessed via its own entrance from a routethrough the grounds. The administrative offices of the Embassy are located on the first andsecond floor. With an acoustically absorbent ceiling, carpeted floor and double façade, the officesare places of calm efficiency. Workspaces are amply lit with daylight from the glass facades andtwo generous planted courtyards in the centre of the plan. In the attic at the second floor is theAmbassador’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 theoutside 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 thecomparatively small Ambassador’s suite the offices will have the scale and quality of cabinets, atheme that continues in the small spaces for sitting that are cut out from the wide areas of plantingfilling the roof terraces on either side. In its larger form the roof planting relates the terraces to thegrounds around the Embassy and the park beyond. With these simple gestures, the Embassymaintains its role in the culture and fabric of Warsaw

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