London & South East

Southwest House: in need of a sensitive touch

Carlton House- Regent Street

Located in the Regent Street Conservation Area there lies the Grade II listed Southwest House which has recently undergone a £6 million redevelopment.

The conservation area was first designated in 1973, extended in 1984 and the boundaries rearranged in 1990 and 2005. The area is internationally renowned for its architectural significance, with Regent Street being considered one of the most important examples of town planning in the country.

Towards the end of 19th Century the buildings on Regent Street became unfashionable and between 1898 and 1930 the street was completely rebuilt.

Remarkable for its high degree of uniformity in terms of architectural style, materials and scale, Regent Street was first laid out by John Nash in the mid 19th Century. The street provides a processional route from Regent’s park in the north to Carlton House in the south (the present site of Southwest Terrace).

Carlton House- Regent Street

The grand white terraces which now dot the area are so quintessentially British – the Beaux Arts style of the buildings in the area are heavily influenced by the architecture of the United States in the period from 1880 to 1920. Non-French European architects of the period 1860–1914 tended to gravitate toward their own national academic centers rather than fixating on Paris. British architects of Imperial classicism followed a somewhat more independent course, owing to the cultural politics of the late 19th century.

Work began in 2012 on Southwest House to preserve this bold piece of 19th century architecture. The terrace required a sensitive touch to bring it back up to the imperious standard of the surrounding area and main contactors BW Interiors and architects Roger Stephenson Studio ensured this was achieved for their client West Midlands Pension Fund- represented by CBRE Global Investors.

Carlton House- Regent Street

The design includes a Category A office fit-out to the seven upper floors, a retail unit to the ground floor, a large office reception and facade repair works.

The design of the office is deliberately minimal to reflect the elegance of the listed facade. Much of the reception is clad from Portland stone to echo the existing structure.

In contrast, the ceiling has a striking bronze fin and lighting feature that gives warmth to the interior as well as defining a linear route from reception to the lift core. A reflective bronze glass wall is utilised to give the allusion of depth to an otherwise modest entrance area.

Roger Stephenson believes that innovative, contemporary architecture, based on modernist principles has an enormously positive effect.  Their work is not based on a repeat prescription but demonstrates a concern for rigorously coherent, contextually progressive architecture that is stimulating and inspiring in concept, detail and construction.

Work was completed on Southwest House in August 2012.

Carlton House- Regent Street

 BW Interiors

BW Interiors were incorporated in 1999 and are a fit out and refurbishment contractor which specialises in commercial offices, high end residential, hotel and leisure projects. Since their incorporation the company has successfully delivered over 1000 projects, covering over 4.2 million square feet in a wide range of sectors.

The company undertakes projects up to £25m with a predicted turnover of £70m this financial year. BWI are a private & independent business and are financially strong- top 2% in the sector.

A company spokesperson said: “We have a flat management structure and like to think as ourselves more as ‘characters, not corporation’, giving our clients the personal touch.”

“We believe in a client for life philosophy which puts more focus on delivering a good job for our clients than profit. We feel we are the kind of contractors who would go the extra mile for our clients and BWI aims to do everything with passion, honesty and integrity.”

Carlton House- Regent Street

Most recently BWI completed the works on Carlton House; when asked about the project a BWI spokesperson added:

“The project was a pleasure to work on due to the excellence and dedication of the entire team from the client representatives to the trade contractors. The work on Carlton House really demonstrates our unique ability to join the complexities of refurbishment with the finished quality and customer focus of end user fit out.

“There were problems to overcome, as there are on all projects of this nature, but they were dealt with in a constructive and positive manner.”

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