The London studio attended one of the capital’s most highly anticipated openings this year, the Raffles London at the OWO!
The Old War Office building stands proudly on Whitehall alongside London’s ceremonial route and once served as the headquarters for The British Army. This building was also once where Churchill conducted his work as Prime Minister.
'home to 120 suites, 85 residential apartments, 9 destination restaurants – including a rooftop restaurant – 3 bars, a spa, and a gym.'
After over 8 years in the making, the Raffles London at the OWO has been very thoughtfully restored in partnership between various developers, the Hinduja Group and Accor.
This southwest London former War Office restoration is known to have cost £1.4bn and is now home to 120 suites, 85 residential apartments, 9 destination restaurants – including a rooftop restaurant – 3 bars, a spa, and a gym.
We attended a talk hosted by Under the Covers that featured a panel of some of the key members from this project’s team to understand their journey, the importance of their collaborative approach and the vision they all shared.
'a beacon of hospitality.'
The talk covered the challenges of reinstating the building to its former glory, how many people were involved and how it’s now a beacon of hospitality.
The panel included Matteo Canepari, Head of Design and Planning at WDS, Anne Becker Olines the Global Chief Design and Technical Services Officer for Accor, Gary Elliot Founder and CEO for Elliott Wood and Geoff Hull, Director for EPR Architects.
Some interesting facts we learned during the talk were:
- The original building was 580,000 square feet and was the largest palace in the whole of Europe.
- The site was one of Henry VIII’s castles and it has a moat, which still exists, this provided a challenge for the engineers.
- The building sadly closed in the 60s – we were thrilled to see the building in the hands of people who could revive it.
- Many Bond movies were filmed at the OWO, the building is known to have been an inspiration for Ian Fleming to pen his spy novels.
- The team loved that this location was unique and had an unusual shape. The hotel sector is all about creating memories and experiences and this building came with the history already here to easily be able to do that.
- The team hired 11 interior design firms to help with the design work across the entire project.
- The output of this project was 765,000 square feet, which is equivalent to over a third of the increase in the area. This was done by extending the basement, at the talk we were able to see progress pictures which illustrated the scale of work this project required.
- Inspired by the original designs of mosaic flooring, the teams decided this was something they wanted to feature in the final design.
- The original grates on the floor were maintained and exposed to highlight the existing character of the building.
- One story that the team loved was the uncovering of an existing mosaic flooring featuring an Old War Office emblem during the demolition and build. This logo then went on to inspire one of the new restaurants within the project.
It was great to hear and understand how this team decided to restore one of London’s most prestigious buildings.
A personal ‘thank you’ from us here at B3 Designers, to the investors who’ve given London a building back. It has opened the opportunity for a magical experience for those who have been wanting to visit and now they can.