Swiss Embassy in London
Client: Federal Office for Buildings and Logistics FOBL, Department of Buildings, Project Management
Place: London, United Kingdom
Date: 2022 Competition
Budget: CHF 40 mio
Alejandro Zaera-Polo, Maider Llaguno-Munitxa, Ivaylo Nachev, Miguel Bello, Eleonora D’Agostino
Daniel Jauslin, Niccolò Centrone
Understatement is a central Swiss value, grown out of life in the harsh Alpine environment. There is an inner confidence which does not need to resort to extravagant gestures and focuses on the fundamentals. Swiss culture eschews ostentation.
The Ambassador’s and the Transfer’s residence will be located on the attic level, which enjoys highest privacy and excellent views over the London skyline. The existing attic structure does not have adequate head clearance for the representative residential areas in the complex, so it is the only part of the existing structure which we have decided to demolish and rebuild, to maximize the volume of the current planning envelope. The real luxury of these program areas is the location within the complex.
The new attic will contain the Ambassador’s Residence, the Transfer Residence, and an area dedicated to the treatment of air, in the area where the air will be cleanest, on top of the building. The Ambassador’s Residence opens to an Alpine terrace which overlooks Bryanstone Sq. and enjoys the highest privacy. A simple construction made with CLT and large triple-glazed windows looking at the London Skyline.
The terrace on the East side of the complex will feature an Alpine ecosystem which will be visible from the Ambassador’s Residence, as another sample of Switzerland.
The terrace on the North side, which will be enjoyed by the other attic apartment for transfer personnel is facing North and therefore we propose to make a rock garden ecosystem with rocks brought from the Alps, moss, and other typic vegetation from the mountain environment.
Swiss nature will be featured as a crucial representation of the country.
Switzerland is world-famous for its precision engineering industry. We want to foreground this capacity in respect to the environmental performance of the building, which is one of the main objectives of our retrofitting strategy. The building will be designed to match a Minergie-P-Eco qualification. All building envelopes will be fitted with new high-performance windows and insulated. The building has been designed as a mixed-mode environment, but while the windows will be openable, the system will be managed through a central Air Handling Unit located on the roof level, from which treated air will be distributed to all non-residential areas, to ensure a high-quality air supply. The spaces will be heated and cooled mostly through ceiling-mounted radiators. LED lights with presence sensors have been chosen for artificial lighting. The environmental infrastructure will be mostly exposed inside of the existing concrete shell, which will be left exposed to contribute to mass-cooling. These facilities will be exposed as an expression of the new building as an environmental clockwork.