Unilever London Headquarters (100 VE), a landmark structure overlooking Blackfriars Bridge and the River Thames, was completed in 1931 and listed in 1977. While distinguished on the exterior, the plan of the building was cramped, with a series of narrow fingers overlooking dark and dreary light wells to the rear. The interior was highly compartmented, with narrow circulation corridors that had evolved over time as areas were modified. Staff restaurant and breakout spaces were in the basement, visitors met in windowless rooms at ground floor, and generally the interiors were cut off from the stunning panoramic views.
A proposal was developed which retained the building’s historic fabric, while transforming the typical floor plate. The new plan includes a large atrium which brings abundant light to the rear spaces and creates a sense of unity. Staff and meeting facilities are located at the top of the building, with dramatic views over the river and to the City. Above, a roof garden with enclosed pavilions provides opportunities for outdoor gatherings.
To ensure activity and animation, lifts, bridges, and dramatically suspended platforms of breakout space are placed inside the atrium. Glass fins cast changing colours across the space. The lighting is designed to allow for dramatic transformations of the central spaces.
The project achieved a BREEAM “excellent” rating and carbon emissions were reduced by 25 percent
A project of
Kohn Pedersen Fox (International) PA
in which the following people at PLP Architecture were involved: Lee Polisano was partner-in-charge; Rob Peebles, specialist structures designer; Dan Moore, architect; Andrei Martin, designer; Richard Woolsgrove, head visualizer; Harjit Sembi, model maker.
Additional Space Planning and Interior Design services
Pringle Brandon, DEGW
2009 RIBA Award
2008 British Council for Offices (BCO) Award / London Regional Winner
2008 International Architecture The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture & Design
2008 MIPIM Award / Refurbished Office Building Category
2008 AIA New York Chapter Building Type Award / Sustainable Design Award Winner
2008 AIA Institute Honor Award for Architecture
2008 ULI Award for Excellence: Europe
2008 City Hertiage Award Outstanding Excellence in the Renewal of Buildings and Conservation
2008 The Structural Steel Design Awards / Design Excellence Award Corus + The British Constructional Steelwork Assoc., Ltd.
2006 Wrap Award for Sustainable Construction /
Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP)
2005 Green Apple Award/The Green Organisation
Refurbished / Recycled Workplace
Certified BREEAM Excellent