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RIBA London floats boat plan

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RIBA London is in talks to relocate its headquarters to a boat on the River Thames.

This extraordinary plan is being developed in an attempt to create a separate identity for the RIBA's London branch.

Currently based at 66 Portland Place (pictured above), RIBA London shares its headquarters with the institute's national body - a situation which it believes is stripping it of its regional identity.

Andrew Hanson, RIBA London chairman, told the AJ that the regional organisation has been looking at various prominent buildings in London in its search for a headquarters, but the idea of a boat on the Thames is leading the pack.

'Having our offices in Portland Place is often thought of as an advantage, but we [London] are very often not seen as a separate entity to the main RIBA,' Hanson said.

'We have been looking at taking some premises elsewhere for a little while, but it won't be happening right now, as we have to make sure the London office is financially secure.'

The RIBA is currently undergoing a regional spending review, and the London office will not be capable of pushing forward any plans to relocate until this has been completed.

Indeed, although current RIBA president Jack Pringle supports the proposals, he admits that at the moment the institute's 'priorities for its funds lie elsewhere'.

However, according to Hanson, RIBA London is still keen on the idea of a separate boat-cum-office as its HQ.

And it is understood that Tim Pyne, the man behind two of the zones in the Millennium Dome, has been involved in the initial stages of getting the scheme off the ground.

One of the advantages of the boat, says Hanson, is that it would allow the London office to move up and down the Thames and stage events across the city.

He said: 'There is still a massive amount to do, and RIBA wants to get the regions on the right track before anything like this can go ahead.

'But it is an interesting idea, and it would mean we could sail the boat to different locations along the Thames, bringing RIBA London to different areas of the capital.'

by Richard Vaughan

and Richard Waite

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