calfordseaden was appointed to provide a multi-disciplinary design service for the Afghanistan Embassy in London. This Grade II listed building was originally designed as a private house in the 1860’s before being converted into an embassy in the 1920’s and is in need of extensive refurbishment. The brief was to refurbish the best of the existing historic fabric and modernise the remaining areas to create an embassy fit for the 21st century.

The works will include the complete replacement of all the mechanical and electrical services. The limited existing services are generally exposed and unsightly detracting from the appearance of the building. The modern bathrooms require even more services than before. To avoid further unsightly pipework we have identified two redundant chimney stacks that can be used to create new vertical service risers allowing the new services to be concealed. A new lift is being installed in a new glass shaft serving all floors.

The existing upper floors were found to be sagging and will be structurally stabilised and strengthened. The fine rooms will be fully restored including replacing missing fibrous plaster ceilings and wall mouldings.

The Ambassador’s residence will be modernised with a new kitchen and new en-suite bathrooms to all the bedrooms. All the new plumbing and ventilation ducts to serve these new spaces are being concealed within the existing fabric. A new “commercial” kitchen is being provided to serve the main functions room.

The existing means of escape in case of fire does not meet current standards. By working closely with the Historic Building Consultant and the Building Control Officer, calfordseaden has devised a new improved “Fire Strategy” for the building. This includes a new escape staircase in the annex, and fire curtains and enhanced alarm systems in the main building. The existing timber panelled doors are being upgraded to give the required level of fire resistance.

The proposals for the Afghanistan Embassy also include an upgrade of the security systems in line with foreign office guidelines. This includes a combination of physical and electronic measures.

The annex building will be extensively altered with a new basement excavated underneath.