Unilever London Headquarters (100 VE), a landmark structure overlooking Blackfriars Bridge and the River Thames, was completed in 1931 and listed in 1977. While distinguished on the exterior, the plan of the building was cramped, with a series of narrow fingers overlooking dark and dreary light wells to the rear. The interior was highly compartmented, with narrow circulation corridors that had evolved over time as areas were modified. Staff restaurant and breakout spaces were in the basement, visitors met in windowless rooms at ground floor, and generally the interiors were cut off from the stunning panoramic views.
A proposal was developed which retained the building’s historic fabric, while transforming the typical floor plate. The new plan includes a large atrium which brings abundant light to the rear spaces and creates a sense of unity. Staff and meeting facilities are located at the top of the building, with dramatic views over the river and to the City. Above, a roof garden with enclosed pavilions provides opportunities for outdoor gatherings.
To ensure activity and animation, lifts, bridges, and dramatically suspended platforms of breakout space are placed inside the atrium. Glass fins cast changing colours across the space. The lighting is designed to allow for dramatic transformations of the central spaces.
The project achieved a BREEAM “excellent” rating and carbon emissions were reduced by 25 percent.
Kohn Pedersen Fox (International) PA
Alyas Latif was involved while working at KPF
Additional Space Planning and Interior Design services Pringle Brandon, DEGW
Offices and Ancillary Services