Tired of London, Tired of Life - One thing a day to do in London

A website about things to do in London

27 October 2009

Admire New Zealand House

Your author occasionally likes to dabble in pretending to be (or actually being) a fan of twentieth century architecture, and amongst the capital's celebrated 1960s examples is New Zealand House, on the corner of Haymarket and Pall Mall. Like many of London's modernist buildings, the building was built on a Blitz bomb site - in this case the derelict site of the Carlton Hotel - on this occasion to a design drawn up by the architects Holland, Hannen & Cubitts in 1959.


The building was a markedly different step from the other diplomatic missions of the day in that it was a modernist skyscraper, succeeding New Zealand's former, more traditional, base at 415 the Strand. This was also to be the first tower block to be built in Central London since the war, so it had to be a good one.

No expense was spared in its construction or in the design, and despite difficulties in planning permission, the 18 storey building was eventually begun after permission was granted directly by the British Cabinet. To this day, it is a rare example of such a skyscraper (albeit a small one) in an area of London where planning is strictly controlled.

Upstairs, the building has a number of outside spaces, including a spectacular terrace around the penthouse, with views over Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, and two internal gardens planted with native New Zealand plants, though sadly these are not open to the public. If you want to get up close or inside the building, your only real options are the Sports Cafe (your author suggests not bothering), or the Royal Opera Arcade (which isn't actually part of it but runs down one side and is very pleasant).

For more information on New Zealand House, see the Twentieth Century Society website here: http://www.c20society.org.uk/docs/building/newzealand.html

^Picture courtesy of Mark Hillary^

2 comments:

  1. Ugly building. Too bad it was listed instead of being demolished.

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