Most office buildings dating from the early part of the last century are not ideally suited to modern working practices. However, many of them add to the architectural wealth of our cities and can be restructured to meet contemporary needs. HM Treasury is such a building. Situated between Parliament Square and Horse Guards Parade, it was completed in 1917 and is Grade II listed. In refurbishing the building, the challenge was to transform a labyrinthine and frequently under-utilised set of spaces into an efficient and enjoyable working environment.

The existing building has a roughly symmetrical plan, with two parts linked by a drum-like courtyard. It is punctuated by smaller courtyards and light wells, which were hitherto unused. In an echo of the strategy deployed in the Great Court, some of the courtyards have been capped with translucent roofs to create five-storey spaces that variously house a library, a café, training rooms and an entrance atrium. The external courtyards have been landscaped to form recreational spaces for staff, while the central drum, hitherto used for parking, has been opened up as a new public space. Internally, more than 7 miles of partitions were removed to create open-plan offices. This radical reorganisation has enabled the Treasury to be accommodated comfortably in the western half of the building, allowing the remainder to be occupied by other government departments.

Significantly, the refurbished building has set new environmental standards in Whitehall. The reconfigured light wells help to ventilate the building naturally, forming thermal chimneys through which air from the office spaces is exhausted by vents at roof level. Fresh air is drawn into the building through the windows, which have also been upgraded to provide improved security. This natural ventilation cycle is assisted by 'wind catchers' mounted on the roof. Heating, lighting and communication systems have been similarly modernised, so that the building combines a sense of history with a contemporary working environment.

Sketches + Drawings

Development

Construction

Quote

Paul Pegler (client)

“The refurbishment of the Treasury has transformed our working culture, and the visible evidence is the number of happy, smiling faces that we now see everywhere about the building.”

Facts + Figures

  • Appointment: 1996
  • Completion: 2002
  • Area: 50,000m²
  • Capacity: 1200
  • Client: HM Treasury Exchequer Partnership
  • Structural Engineer: Waterman Partnership plc
  • Quantity Surveyor: Hanscomb Partnership / Mott Green & Wall
  • M+E Engineer: JBB
  • Landscape Architect: Gustafson Porter Limited
  • Lighting Engineer: Speirs & Major Limited
  • Additional Consultants: Gustafson Porter Limited, Speirs & Major Limited, Hann Tucker, Fielden and Mawson, David Bonnett, Per Arnoldi

Awards

  • British Council for Offices – London Refurbished/Recycled Workplace Award,
  • Urban Land Institute (ULI) Award for Excellence: Europe competition
  • Building Cleanability Award – National Winner, Heritage Category,
  • British Construction Industry Awards Major Project Category - High Recommendation,
  • British Council for Offices – National Refurbished Workplace Award,
  • British Council for Offices – London Refurbished Workplace Award,
  • Public Private Finance Award – ‘Best Design Project’

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