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Contest for UK ambassadorial residence in Beijing launched

British Embassy in Beijing
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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has launched a major competition to design an ambassador’s residence at the British Embassy in Beijing

The competitive interview process – organised by the RIBA – will select a design team ‘of the highest calibre’ to create a new home for the ambassador on the site of the existing 1959 embassy, located within the Chinese capital’s diplomatic district.

Planned to complete in 2024, the project will deliver a ‘modern, seismically resilient’ home for the UK’s foremost diplomatic representative in China – currently Barbara Woodward – intended to ‘fully reflect Britain and its values.’ The building will occupy a 7,980m² plot within the walled embassy complex.

Tony Whitehead, director of estates at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said: ‘Upgrading our residence has been a long time in the planning, and I hope this competition generates an exciting array of architectural designs that will help the UK stand out in China.’

The British Embassy in Beijing occupies a two-story villa (pictured) within the city’s diplomatic quarter. It was constructed by the Chinese government in 1959 to replace an earlier 19th-century embassy which was demolished to make way for the Beijing’s Supreme People’s Court.

The current building at 11 Guang Hua Lu is no longer larger enough to host the embassy’s consulate services, which are now based inside the high-rise Kerry Centre nearby. The latest project aims to create a prestigious new base where the UK ambassador can ‘project Britain’s global influence.’

Proposals must feature a ground-floor entertainment space with formal dining area and a caterer’s kitchen. The first floor will, meanwhile, include guests rooms for visiting ministers and a private apartment for the ambassador and their family.

Interested teams are invited to submit expressions of interest in accordance with requirements set out in the project’s selection questionnaire. Five shortlisted teams will receive £2,000 each to outline their design approach during the competition’s second phase.

Jury members will include David Morley of David Morley Architects who will act as RIBA adviser. Bids will be evaluated 75 per cent on quality and 25 per cent on price.

The overall winner, to be announced on 21 October, will receive the design commission. The deadline for applications is 2pm, 8 August. 

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

RIBA Competitions
No 1 Aire Street

Tel: 0113 203 1490
Email: riba.competitions@riba.org 

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