The London Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is seeking a design team for a major £7-to-11 million overhaul of its Grade II-listed headquarters
The multidisciplinary team and principal designer chosen for the commission will restore, reconfigure and potentially expand the dilapidated 31 Princes Gate chancery overlooking Kensington Gardens and Exhibition Road in South Kensington.
The project, planned to complete in 2020, will repair and make weatherproof the 1848 end-of-terrace house while also creating offices, a reception and presentation spaces, an ambassador’s apartment, a basement consular area, and a possible penthouse above an annexe.
According to the brief: ‘Ever since its establishment in 1922, the embassy of Afghanistan in London has been considered within the leadership and foreign-policy establishment of Afghanistan as one of the most important foreign liaison offices of the country and the embassy building is among the oldest diplomatic mission purchased by the government of Afghanistan.
‘The government of Afghanistan intends to restore its historic embassy building to its original glory and is seeking a consultant for the project. Ambassador Said T Jawad is looking forward to working with the successful bidder and welcomes proposals to carry out the services in the most professional, expedient and cost-effective way.
The Afghan government purchased 31 Princes Gate in 1925, six years after the country declared its independence. The grand end-of-terrace house was constructed by architect-builder Charles James Freake, who also created nearby Eaton and Onslow squares.
The five-storey building – opposite Norman Shaw’s Royal Geographical Society – is in a poor state of repair following many years of neglect, which have left the attic floor infested with pigeons and the lower levels with severe water damage.
The latest project aims to restore the structure and reconfigure its interior to create a modern embassy and appropriate ‘front door’ for the country.
The winning team will also explore the possibility of relocating the lift, opening up the basement level for consular activities, and constructing a new penthouse over the building’s 1955 annexe. A feasibility study for the project has already been completed by Mace.
The deadline for applications is 3pm on 15 February.
How to apply
View the contract notice for more information
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
31 Princes Gate