With its stone façade and landmark clock tower, Abbey House exudes a solidity that befitted the headquarters of the Abbey Building Society in the 1930s, when it laid the foundations for small-scale, home-owning capitalism.
But the reality is very different, as we found when CIT and architects Rolfe Judd asked us to engineer the conversion into residential accommodation.
It sits above two deep tube lines. A makeover in the 1980s larded another layer of uninspired design onto the original, and we found no archives relating to the original structure to help us understand its construction. It was decided to knock down everything except the façade and clock tower and insert a new concrete structure with flat slabs spanning up to 9 m. While this gave complete control of the form and space to the design team, we then had to satisfy London Underground that neither the construction process, nor settlement of the new structure, would affect their tunnels.
Refurbishment of the original headquarters of the Abbey Building Society in London, retaining the façade and 1930s clock tower
£ 25 million