Planning approval for US Embassy

Yesterday evening (Wednesday) Wandsworth Council’s planning applications committee approved the detailed designs for the new US Embassy complex at the heart of the Nine Elms regeneration area.

Published on
September 20, 2012


Yesterday evening (Wednesday) Wandsworth Council’s planning applications committee approved the detailed designs for the new US Embassy complex at the heart of the Nine Elms on the South Bank regeneration area.

The Kieran Timberlake scheme has been commended by design watchdog CABE for its design concept and the quality of its environmental strategies.

The US Government has set a clear ambition for the completed building to attain the ‘outstanding’ grade from its BREEAM environmental assessment. Only around 30 buildings in the world have achieved this maximum rating.

Sustainable design features include a ground source heat pump to provide renewable energy and photovoltaic panels for harvesting solar power. The landscaped gardens and pond would provide new habitats for wildlife and greywater will be recycled on site.

The development is centred around ‘The Chancery’ – an 11 storey cube shaped building. The north facing elevation is largely glazed, while the other three sides of the building have a distinctive outer shell made from ethylene tetraffluoroethylene (ETFE) – a transparent, lightweight polymer which is self cleaning.

Wandsworth Council’s planning chairman Cllr Nick Cuff said:

“This remarkable building will be a fitting centerpiece for the new Nine Elms and could be among the highest performing buildings in the world in terms of energy use and sustainability.

“The Embassy’s move is already acting as a magnet for new investment in this part of London which has started to change on an enormous scale. Once it opens its doors the complex will attract more than 1,000 visitors everyday – boosting the local economy and bringing new life to this stretch of the South Bank.”

Three single storey entrance pavilions would be located on the perimeter of the site to manage access to the main building.

The scheme would provide new public open space including landscaped gardens, walkways and a large pond designed by Olin landscape architects.

Six internal gardens are located throughout the upper floors of the chancery building, each with a different theme representing the variety of the US landscape.

The area immediately south of the site is set to become a new public plaza. This open space would form a key link in a linear park which will run all the way through Nine Elms from Vauxhall Cross to Battersea Power Station.

There would also be space set aside for a new Barclays cycle hire docking station.

In its official response to the scheme’s consultation design watchdog CABE said:

“The new US Embassy is pivotal for the redevelopment of the Nine Elms area and the opportunities this project offers for this part of London cannot be overstated. We support the proposal and think it could become a successful piece of architecture…

“…We are confident that this proposal has the potential to provide high quality open spaces both along Nine Elms Lane and along the proposed Linear Park which will connect Vauxhall and Battersea….

“…We applaud the concept with its use of layers of transparency to represent the United States of America and evoke democratic principles, and welcome the skilful elevational treatment which responds well to context and orientation.”

To view the application documents in detail visit – search for application reference number 2012/2759.

Images of the embassy designs are available online.


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