The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has today chosen a strong shortlist of six practices to build a new embassy in Warsaw, Poland - with a specific emphasis on less established names, the AJ can reveal.
The government department, after sifting through more than 80 submissions of credentials - including some of the biggest possible names in the UK architecture scene - has chosen six 'mixed' firms to go forward into the next phase of the design competition. They will receive briefings on security later this week, before visiting the site.
The six shortlisted teams are:
David Chipperfield Architects - shortlisted for the Stirling Prize last year;
Tony Fretton Architects;
Benson and Forsyth;
Hoger Hare Architects; and 2embassy building and 600m
Denton Corker Marshall.
The Warsaw project involves the creation of a 4,000m 2 ambassador's residence on a single 0.6ha site.
The owner of the existing embassy wants to take back the lease on the 'ill-functioning' Chancery building and turn it into a 'designer hotel', while the space where the existing visa, consular and commercial sections are dealt with also has an expiring lease. The two sections will be co-located in one new building on the existing residence site in the Government quarter.
Stephen Whittle, an architect in charge of the FCO's Estate Strategy Unit, said that, following direction from the former Design Champion for his department, Denis McShane, they had tried to attract younger talent and firms from Poland, but had received just 13 Polish submissions, all of which proved unsuccessful.
And, following a post-11 September edict from the Cabinet office, the new building will need to minimise its usage of glass, though its stipulation that such buildings should be set back from roads by 30m may be more difficult to entertain.
The building will be traditionally procured because, said Whittle, the PFI does not always work overseas and the £10 million project is under the £20 million rough threshold. But it will adhere to 'principles of partnering' and include a commitment to environmental policy and initiatives such as Design Quality Indicators.
Designs from the teams will be due in April and the winner of the competition will be announced in May.