Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We use cookies to personalise your experience; learn more in our Privacy and Cookie Policy. You can opt out of some cookies by adjusting your browser settings; see the cookie policy for details. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies.

Top-name Brits shortlisted for UK ambassador’s residence in Beijing

Shutterstock beijing skyline

Some of the leading lights of British architecture have been shortlisted in the contest to design a new Ambassador’s Residence at the British Embassy in Beijing

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Carmody Groarke, Eric Parry Architects, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and The Manser Practice make up the five finalists in the RIBA-backed competition, run on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The contest attracted 39 entries.

The brief called for 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 – and ’provide a platform for the ambassador to project Britain’s global influence’. The building will occupy a 7,980m² plot within the walled embassy complex.


  •  Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
  •  Carmody Groarke
  •  Eric Parry Architects
  •  Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
  •  The Manser Practice

Edward Hobart, director of estates and security directorate at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said: ‘This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to design the showcase for the UK in one of the world’s most important capitals.

’We are looking for a proposal that represents the UK’s leading role in architecture, and which can be considered as an impressive and significant building for decades to come, standing alongside the great British ambassadorial residences, such as those in Paris and Washington.’

British Embassy in Beijing

British Embassy in Beijing

Source: Image by Krokodyl

British Embassy in Beijing

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 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.

The five shortlisted teams will each receive £2,000 to outline their design approach. 

The bids will be evaluated 75 per cent on quality and 25 per cent on price.

The finalists will be interviewed next month.


Readers' comments (6)

  • Please think about a building of 'the highest calibre' -- and we will pay you the princely sum of £2,000 to do so. Typical.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think it is scandalous to pay each architectural practice a nominal reward of £2,000 for a design proposal when they will spend much more.
    To produce a decent submission with good quality 3D images will take a couple of week's time and may cost each practice upwards of £25,000. The best image will probably win the competition and the winning design will be featured in the media so many architects may be persuaded it is worth the investment.
    But for £10,000 the commissioning body is getting £125,000 worth of design ideas, innovation and creativity. I think accepting these terms devalues the skill and work of the architect. Indeed, I think competitions should not be promoted by the profession or the professional media and I always ask myself whether other professions accept such terms.
    I would rather see architects selected by interview with a fee proposal, track record and CVs of team. Then the design to be developed in collaboration with the client and the chosen architect properly compensated for his work without exploiting 4 other practices.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • A bit of collusion would be in order, with all the practices agreeing to limit their submissions just to their standard practice information together with an invoice for £2,000. to be settled as soon as possible, payable in a hard currency, before the Prime Minister causes the breakdown of diplomatic relations with Beijing.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It’s ok I think all of them will be able to write off this paltry sum

    Pity it’s the same old names bar 1 but then thats only to be expected when the RIBA is involved

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Given the Chinese penchant for 'fake' European architecture, why not give them e.g. a replica of Strawberry Hill? Or a 16th century cottage?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • MacKenzie Architects

    "I think all of them will be able to write off this paltry sum" just means someone else has to pay for the work. Either staff working overnight and weekends, or other clients.

    Either way, it's an insult from the FCO who obviously don't understand what Architects do -or don't rate their efforts at much more than £10/hr , and the RIBA should make some heavy noise about it.

    It would have been far better to just have the beauty parade, a simple presentation of past work. The right Architect would be obvious when you asked them how they approached any commission.
    Anyone who can produce a sketch design after studying the brief for an afternoon, is the wrong man woman for the job.

    Mind you, who would have the FCO as a client, they seem to have been the worst-performing civil servants for at least a century. Hong Kong seems to have caught them on the hop, once again.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.