$16m revamp of High Commission in London to showcase Canada’s identity

Canada HouseAs part of the Canadian government’s consolidation of its diplomatic mission in the UK, it has put up for sale MacDonald House in Grosvenor Square in London and will look to develop its other main building Canada House in Trafalgar Square. MacDonald House was formerly the American Embassy until 1961 and the Canadian Government has been looking to consolidate its operations for a number of years. As well as moving its functions under one roof, the Government has earmarked $16 million for a revamp of Canada House which will also be designed to showcase Canadian values and know-how.

According to a report in the Vancouver Sun, the redesign and refurbishment of the building will begin in April although a public tender for architectural work is still in place. The revamp will incorporate both Canada House and the building next door at 2-4 Cockspur Street than was acquired for $100 million. Once complete, 200 staff from MacDonald House will be relocated to work alongside their colleagues in the new complex.

Canada House is a Greek Revival building that was once home to the Royal College of Physicians.The tender for the refurb of Canda House focuses on the need to maintain the period feel of the buildings while focusing on modern Canadian identity. It reads:  “As the primary physical symbol of Canada in the U.K., Canada House needs to be a modern, green, efficient building that reflects Canadian values. Canada House must project these values through its infrastructure and design while balancing intelligent security with welcoming public access.”

It continues: “In the current global political-economic environment, and thanks to Canadian leadership in new communication technologies and low-carbon green design, art and culture, the new Canada House can become a window on contemporary Canada and a privileged location from which to promote Canadian values and interests, making Canada’s voice heard in the United Kingdom, in Europe and beyond. A 21st-century vision for Canada House must be built on the achievements and lessons learned in recent years, and on recognition of the important personal and diplomatic role Canada House has played in the lives of Canadians in the UK.”