Horseferry House

London. 2008

  • Project Details
  • Completion: 2008
  • Cost: £21 Million
  • Clients: Derwent London plc

Horseferry House reinvents an imposing 1930s government office building into a sophisticated HQ for a world-renowned fashion company. The inside of an existing seven-storey island-site building is gutted, and its lower levels carved into to reintegrate it with the street by creating double-height entrance portals and a naturally-lit lower basement. An existing internal courtyard – previously under-utilised – and a lightwell are topped with ETFE pillows and transformed into two new full-height atriums, becoming hubs of light and movement. Both are animated by black metal link bridges that serve not just as thoroughfares but as breakout spaces in their own right. Cantilevering metal-framed break-out spaces (pop-outs) and glazed ceiling extensions connecting to the roof terraces (pop-ups) increase space and lighting levels on the seventh floor. The conversion – initially designed as a speculative office development but then pre-let in full to Burberry – has resulted in 150,000 square feet of flexible and high quality office space.

The nature of the development was favourable with the Planning Department as the previous developer’s scheme proposed to demolish the building. The planners were understandably resistant to this idea as the building has unique character and fits in well with the surrounding buildings and area.  There were a number of local interest groups, including the Thorney Island Committee who were consulted on the redevelopment of Horseferry House, and whose views were sought and incorporated within the vision of the project.

Due to its location, there were a number of sensitive issues that had to be addressed in order to gain approval and planning permission. 

A number of studies were completed when it came to the roof terrace. These studies had to involve being able to demonstrate that any additional roof elements have minimal visual impact. The process was resolved by a mock up of elements and a site visit.

Another sensitive area was the ground floor glazing, for this a number of systems were investigated. The chosen system was half way between a curtain walling and crittall window system. The frames are of minimal thickness and are elegant in terms of profile and proportion and work with the existing buildings mullion and transom configuration. The idea of bringing clear glazing to the ground was a definite improvement for connecting the building and the street.


Engaging with the Street

CGI of the building from Horseferry road looking south east towards the main entrance

Making new entrances


Illustration with existing photo marking the new entrance on Dean Ryle street


Sections through the entrances showing the double portal (on the left) and the double height cut back to the terrace at lower ground (on the right)

The Reception


CGI of reception


CGI of atrium


Existing views of atrium


Illustration of atrium from ground floor lift lobby


Sketch of bridges

The Lightwell


Sketch of Lightwell

The ETFE Roof

Illustration of pop ups and ETFE roof from seventh floor office bridge

The Pop Outs

View of seventh floor pop outs


Illustration of pop ups to terrace from seventh floor office

Roof Terraces

Illustration of north terrace (on left) and of south terrace (on right)
Illustration of pop ups to provide light to seventh floor office

Structural alterations to the existing building


The following areas of the building were demolished:


  • The party wall between the northern and southern sections of the building.

  • The entire central circulation core structure (stairs/lifts and surrounding structure).

  • All the non load bearing partitions in the building.

  • The internal concrete staircases.

  • The internal lifts.

  • All the structure within the central lightwells (including the fire escape staircases).

  • Large sections of the ground floor slab.

  • Removal of all the ground floor strengthening beams.

This demolition would have compromised the stability of the existing building, so in order to maintain the building stability, temporary steel angle cross bracing was installed prior to the commencement of the demolition.


Proposed new Structure


The following are the main areas of new structural work:


  • A new reinforced concrete framed circulation core (lifts/stairs) was constructed within the lightwell.

  • Two new steel framed fire escape staircases was constructed at the northern and southern ends of the lightwell.

  • A new steel frame was constructed to replace the load bearing masonry wall.

  • Slab infills was placed where the existing lifts and stairs were demolished.

  • Large sections of the ground floor slab were rebuilt at street level for a level access reception area and level access loading bays.

  • Sections of the façade at ground and first floor level were reconfigured to create a new reception façade feature.

  • Voids were cut in the ground floor slab to let light into the basement.

  • All the new structure within the lightwell had piled foundations.

  • A new steel framed structure above the new southern lightwell clad with ETFE fabric enclosed the lightwell and form an atrium.


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