One enters the Embassy grounds through a Gate House on Ul. Kawalerii. A carriageway leads to a stone clad porte cochère at the centre of the façade. 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. A variety of material finishes are used in the interior. Structural columns are expressed and the windows set between them have mullions and spandrels in light bronze anodised aluminium. The floors are terrazzo or carpeted. The foyer coat cupboard and café screen are made of walnut panels.
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.
In addition to strengthening the building’s security the double façade has significant environmental credentials. It acts as an environmental barrier to the harsh Polish winters and warm summers. The glazed outer skin on the South, West and East facades is positioned one metre beyond the inner skin to create a cavity. Mechanical louvres at the top and bottom of the cavity are closed in winter to retain the heat, while in summer they can be opened to cool the building. The heating and cooling system inside the building has variable flow and adjusts in accordance with fluctuating temperatures outside. These combined solutions significantly reduce the building’s energy consumption. Another sustainable design feature is the carbon dioxide driven ventilation, which has been applied to the exhibition area. This system adjusts the mechanical ventilation levels in accordance to room traffic and has been applied to the exhibition space where occupancy levels will fluctuate. All heating needs for the building are generated from a connection to Warsaw’s district heating system, negating the need for a boiler.
About Tony Fretton Architects:
Tony Fretton Architects was founded in 1982 and is now headed by partners Tony Fretton and James McKinney. The buildings completed by the practice in London for the Lisson Gallery in 1986 and 1992 continue to be internationally recognised as exemplary spaces for art, for the architectural experiences they offer and for their social engagement with the surrounding city. These three aspects – exemplary functioning, rewarding experience and productive engagement with the locale – are the underlying motifs in all the subsequent work.
Now an extensive practice, Tony Fretton Architects is building across Europe: Tietgens Ærgrelsea, Copenhagen started on site this spring and two large-scale apartment projects in the Netherlands are due to complete in early 2010.
Ul. Kawalerii 12, Warsaw, Poland
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
March 2008-July 2009
Site: 5598 sq m, internal area: 4309 sq m
Design and Build Contractor:
Architects and design team leader: Tony Fretton Architects
Executive Architect: Epstein Sp z o.o
Structural, Services and Acoustic Engineers: Buro Happold Polska Sp. z o.o.
Quantity Surveyors: Arcadis
Specialist security consultant: David Goode & Associates
Landscape Architect: Schoenaich Landscape Architects Ltd
Execution (Landscape): RS Architektura Krajobrazu,
Space planners: Forme UK
Execution (Architecture): EMKAA Architekci
BREEAM consultants: TPS
Principal sub-contractor: Porr (Polska) S.A.
Façade sub-contractor: Saelzer GmbH
Specialist sub-contractor: RWS Limited
Perimeter security suppliers: Avon Barrier, Gunnebo
Furniture Suppliers: Vitra, Knoll, Bene, Humanscale, Constructor
Signage Supplier: JDC
Locks & ironmongery supplier: Thomas Fox
Claire Curtice Publicists