RMJM’s award-winning New Zealand House, on a prominent site in the centre of London, exemplifies the firm’s reputation for contemporary building design capable of making a contemporary mark on the surrounding environment while providing a functional space that also aids the daily operations within.
RMJM won the commission for the design of the new High Commission in 1959. The brief for the new building was highly complex, and needed to accommodate a large number of staff over a range of different functions including diplomacy and trade promotion. In addition the building had to act as an embassy, dealing with citizenship and visa issues, and also have the capacity to act as a venue for entertaining visiting dignitaries.
In 1995, RMJM undertook the complete refurbishment of the building, which remained in occupation throughout the entire project programme.
Several parts of the building had been allocated new functions, and needed to be updated to accommodate new technology and changes in work styles. However, the building’s integral flexibility enabled this to be carried out successfully, allowing several floors within the tower section to be converted for commercial tenants.
The building enjoyed success at the British Council for Offices Awards 1998, winning the inaugural ‘Test of Time’ Award. The jury’s appraisal stated: ‘Both in its overall configuration and its detailing, New Zealand House anticipated subsequent relevant practice. The depths work, the sectional heights have accommodated raised floors, the internal space has divided effectively for occupancy by external tenants in an age when both the foreign workforce and entertainment activity of governments have declined.’