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FIRST LOOK

Kohn Pedersen Fox retrofit gives Which? HQ an armadillo-like roof extension

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This conservation and retrofit project has been designed to provide a collaborative new working environment for the consumer organisation in a remodelled hybrid building to the south of Regent’s Park

Kohn Pedersen Fox has completed a new headquarters for Which? – the Consumers’ Association – in a hybrid building to the south of Regent’s Park. Designed to ‘encourage the evolution of working practices’, the project mixes office space with two large multipurpose areas – one at ground level and one at roof level – which can support presentations, social gatherings, meetings or dining. 

The two distinct components of the existing structure – part Grade II*-listed Georgian terrace and part 1980s concrete-framed office – presented a range of challenges. In particular, the 1980s core had to be partly removed and relocated to increase internal connectivity, enable the creation of these larger spaces and unify the building.

Formerly Which? had no collaborative-type spaces, and so new areas have been located near the repositioned lift core to create ‘co-working hubs’ on each level. These areas are a combination of enclosed rooms and semi-private spaces to suit various needs. 

HLW Which Offices Hufton Crow 021

Which? HQ by KPF

Source: Hufton + Crow

To the rear of the building on Peto Place, the floorplate has been extended and a new façade of transparent and translucent glazing panels has been introduced. More dramatically, the 1980s plant room on the large, flat roof has been moved, allowing an additional storey to be created, enclosed by an angular metal roof structure. Using the existing structure to avoid the need for major reinforcement, the storey has been designed to have minimal impact on local historic views. 

The new floor accommodates a conference facility, canteen and terrace, with a pivot wall allowing it to be subdivided if necessary. Throughout, key internal spaces have been refurbished with new materials and finishes: a limestone floor creates visual continuity across the ground floor, suspended ceilings have been removed and new lighting installed. In the listed parts of the building, original details such as Georgian cornices, have been retained and refreshed. 

KPF Which London Visit 2 Hufton Crow 046

Which? HQ by KPF

Source: Hufton + Crow

Architect’s view

The Which? Headquarters represents an important juncture in the evolution and curation of conservation areas in the London Borough of Camden. The insertion of boldly contemporary design elements challenges preconceptions and enhances the conservation area, adding to the tradition of unexpected architectural and urban experiences that have always characterised London. We deployed the space available on the existing flat roof to create a multipurpose level of accommodation. This new floor is conceived as an object in its own right, a cocoon of sorts, resting on top of the rectilinear floors below. 

The overall form of the additional storey was tightly constrained by sight lines within the conservation area and the setting of the Grade I-listed church opposite. Our aim was to maximise the impression of height and airiness within, to yield the most usable space and perceivable height, while minimising the impact. Viewed externally from the hotel opposite, the new level belongs to the language of roofs, with anthracite zinc covering and sharp‐edged detailing. Carefully placed standing roof seams cast a subtle pattern of shadows across the angled surfaces, making them crafted objects in their own right. 

The edges of the space fall, mansard‐like, down to the flat roof and are set back behind the parapet. A serrated profile, composed of interlocking angled portal frames, enables natural light to be brought in through reveals between the elements. The effect is that of segments that rise and fall to create an organic overall shape, building a soft profile out of individual geometric pieces.

Paul Simovic, director, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF)

Which HQ Drawings 5

Which? HQ by KPF

Source: KPF

Exploded axonometric

Project data

Start on site January 2016 
Completion July 2018 
Gross (internal + external) floor area 6,684 sqm/77,382 sq ft 
Form of contract or procurement route JCT Standard Building Contract 
Construction cost Confidential 
Architect Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) 
Interior design HLW International 
Client The Consumer Association, trading as Which? 
Structural engineer AKT II 
M&E consultant Thornton Reynolds 
QS Core Five LLP 
Project manager CBRE 
CDM coordinator Total CDM Solutions Ltd. 
CAD software used AutoCAD 
Annual CO2 emissions 35.82 Kg/m² (regulated emissions) 

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