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Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands plans revamp for London’s first tower block

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Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands (LDS) has submitted plans for a major updating and revamp of central London’s first tower block.

The RMJM-designed New Zealand House, on Haymarket, was commissioned in the mid-1950s and completed in 1963. The building is owned by the Crown Estate and is home to the New Zealand High Commission.

It was Grade II-listed in 1995 in recognition of its ‘elegant tower and podium composition’.

The Twentieth Century Society has called it ‘London’s most distinguished 1960s office block’ and ‘an important landmark, set between the Nash terraces of Pall Mall and the Victorian theatres of Haymarket’. But, according to LDS, it is past its use-by date.

‘While pioneering and cutting edge when built, the building systems and services within New Zealand House are now at the end of their usable life; in some cases finding replacement parts is proving impossible,’ reads the planning document submitted to Westminster City Council earlier this month.

’The building needs to be refurbished to a modern standard that meets the requirements of the New Zealand government and current British standard building regulations.’

The building has always been too big for the New Zealand government and has been sub-let to office tenants, the document says. ‘This refurbishment provides the opportunity to reinforce the New Zealand government identity in the building whilst repurposing those areas that are not required.’

Cgi of proposed lobby space for the new zealand government

Proposed lobby space for the New Zealand government - plans by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands [as sumbitted October 2019]

Proposed lobby space for the New Zealand government - plans by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands [as sumbitted October 2019]

Under LDS’s plan, new offices, shops and restaurants will be developed in the tower and the nearby Royal Opera Arcade – designed by Thomas Nash and GS Repton and completed in 1818 – will be restored and diversified.

Office tenants in New Zealand House will have separate spaces with their own entrances and lifts. The Haymarket entrance to the tower will be refurbished and given over for use by the New Zealand government, while a new entrance will be created for office tenants on Pall Mall.

Source: Shutterstock

The third floor will be turned into a flexible space with a restaurant and bar and a conservatory added to provide protection from the elements on the terrace. A diplomatic residence will be added on the 17th floor and a transparent roof added to the level two courtyard to make a neglected outside space useable. The building will be reglazed and its stone spandrels and façade repaired. New building services including air-source heat pumps will be installed.

On the ground floor, there will be new retail units and outside improvements made to the public realm. Shopfronts in the Royal Opera Arcade will be restored and new office, food and drinking uses added. Heritage work in the arcade will be overseen by Donald Insall Associates.

New Zealand House sits on the site of the old Carlton Hotel. As the first tower built in central London after the war it ‘served as a test case’ for tall buildings in London, according to the Twentieth Century Society.

‘The final tower was restricted to 15 storeys but before it had been completed, permission was already being given for higher, and less distinguished buildings to go up in central London, such as the Hilton Hotel Park Lane (1961-3) and Portland House near Victoria Station (1960-2).’

A committee date is not yet known.

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