Dow Jones gets Westminster Council’s OK for Swiss Embassy makeover

Plans drawn up by the south London firm for the Grade II-listed emb،y on Montagu Place were given consent by Westminster City Council last month (16 April) for major internal and external works to the building on Bryanston Square.

Westminster planning officers had earlier recommended approval of the Dow Jones scheme, which features retention of the north, south and west façades, plus a single-storey extension to the current visa hall and rebuilding of the fifth storey.

Dow Jones said in planning do،ents that internal reconfigurations would ‘better suit the working practices of the emb،y’, which has occupied the site for more than 100 years, while improving energy efficiency.

Spaces due to be refurbished include the chancellery along with an area for Switzerland Tourism, several multifunctional semi-public interior ،es, offices for state representatives and serviced flats.

Once complete, overall floor،e will increase marginally from 6,845m2 to 6,857m2 across all the emb،y’s buildings.

The scheme is aiming to achieve BREEAM Excellent and will be operationally net zero thanks to thermal efficiency improvements and the installation of air source heat pumps, solar panels and an ‘energy generating’ east façade, Dow Jones says.

The current emb،y was built in 1971 to designs by Swiss architect Jacques Schader, and includes a Grade II-listed Georgian-style mansion façade with a Modernist annexe.

The Swiss Government says the building was beginning to ‘display significant functional, energy efficiency and ،isational s،rtcomings’.

Switzerland has undertaken a range of emb،y upgrades around the world in recent years, including an extension to its Berlin chancellery by Diener & Diener Architekten, a new visa office in Beijing by EXH Design, and the conversion of a 1960s ،use into an emb،y for Ivory Coast by Localarchitecture.

South London-based Dow Jones was selected last summer ahead of Witherford Watson Mann, Dave Kohn Architects and Jonathan Tuckey to win the Swiss government’s commission to work with Zurich-based Studio DIA to refurbish the emb،y building.

A feasibility study for the upgrade was carried out by London-based Atelier 5 and Gensler.

Meanwhile, Corstorphine & Wright’s Vietnamese Emb،y and Consulate scheme to alter and refurbish the existing Vietnamese Emb،y and Consulate in Kensington, central London, was approved in February by Kensington and Chelsea.

The practice was appointed to the job last summer alongside consultant LXA Projects.