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Terrorists force embassy rethink

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Last November's Al Qaeda bombings in Istanbul have forced Tony Fretton Architects to reconsider the designs of the new British Embassy in the Polish capital Warsaw.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) asked the practice to put a greater emphasis on the secret security measures included in the scheme, following the increased threat of terrorist action.

As a result, the project's development timetable was delayed 'by a matter of months' as the London-based office made a series of design alterations.

And the FCO project sponsor, Kay Hughes, has told the AJ that design for all embassies 'in Western cities' would now be reassessed.

Tony Fretton said there were few aesthetic changes to the project. 'The situation with embassies at the moment for their designers is that there are now many new concerns, ' he said.

'After the bombings in Istanbul there was a little delay and we had a conversation with the FCO about any changes we should make, ' Fretton added. 'It is the duty of any architect to protect the inhabitants of the buildings they design.'

Hughes agreed that there 'had been a sudden urgency to make the changes'. 'Obviously we always had security concerns, but they were given a new priority, ' she said.

'The most important aspect we consider is the distance between the main building and the perimeter fence. If a new embassy is in the Third World, where land is cheap, we can afford to make the building secure by buying the surrounding area.

'This isn't the case in Western capitals, so we now have to put a much greater focus on security measures, ' she added.

However, Hughes said that the three new embassies currently in development - Yemen by Design Engine, Uganda by Cullum and Nightingale Architects, and Sri Lanka by Richard Murphy Architects - remain unaffected by these security concerns.

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