Client: British Petroleum
Location: Finsbury Circus, City of London
Sir John Browne, chairman of British Petroleum, wished to host a plenum session of the G8’s Heads of Government that was being held in the UK in 1998. None of their existing facilities was deemed sufficient for such an important event so they decided to commission a purpose built temporary conference facility within their HQ building; Britannic House designed by Edwin Lutyens. This is a Grade II* masterpiece which requires Consent from both the Corporation and English Heritage for any works undertaken, including the screw fixings of demountable temporary partitions. This process takes years but the expectation was to host world leaders, a deadline that could not be moved, 90 days from their invitation.
The solution was simple; working with a specialist manufacturer we designed, erected, tested, de-assembled, transported each of the finished components to site where they were each slid in on air skids without touching the listed fabric. In this manner, the works were deemed to a piece of furniture and circumvented the approval process.
The conference had to accommodate many uses from open reception area, to cinema, to individual rooms. The walls, ceilings, floor, lighting and even the performance of acoustic absorption was all automated and controlled by remote control.
This was more akin to theatre design than Architecture but it was an outstanding success; none of the world’s Leaders complained.