SIS Building

“London’s worst kept secret” is the title of this building, positioned on the River Thames right bank in Vauxhall. The headquarters building of the Britain’s secret service is a flamboyant postmodern complex, a sight impossible to miss. On the other hand, making such an institution visible may have had a positive effect as everyone knows that they are present.

The expressive strength of the building beyond its panache lays in the fact that it could at the same time be many things: an Egyptian temple, a retro-futuristic extravaganza, a power-plant, or an Art Deco experiment. Growing from the river bank onto a set of massive terraces it has everything: large horizontal cogs, a Japanese Torii pergola leading to the single red pillar, a stepped pyramid form, and probably an altar. It is a witty, charming and strange style for a building that will remain closed for the most.

The entrance from the Albert Embankment shows the same style but a different scale. The building is now monolithic, featuring monumental three floors tall entrance flanked by a barbican like structures. The simple geometric ornamentation is applied all over the facade, under the windows as precast concrete blocks, on the glass facade as deep turquoise ribs, and even on the pillars and gate of the spiked barrier.

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