Last edited 09 Jan 2021

SIS Building

MI6 Building270.jpg


[edit] Introduction

The Secret Intelligence Services (SIS) Building, more commonly known as the MI6 Building, is the headquarters of the British Secret Intelligence Service, situated on the Albert Embankment section of the River Thames next to Vauxhall Bridge. The building was completed and inaugurated in 1994 and has come to be recognised as one of London's most distinctive structures (the irony of which, for a secret organisation, has been widely commented on).

The building's architect was Terry Farrell, whose Mayan and Aztec temple design translated into a post-modern style was met with criticism and nicknames such as the 'Vauxhall Trollop' and 'Babylon-on-Thames'.

[edit] Design and construction

Security issues prompted the need for a new headquarters for MI6 who had previously occupied an office block near Waterloo Station. In 1983, the Albert Embankment site was purchased by the property developers Regalian Properties plc, who in 1987 approached the Government to assess their interest in such a building being developed for their purposes.

In 1988, the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher agreed to the purchase of the new building for the SIS at a cost of £135.05m for the site and £152.6m for the basic building.

The building incorporates modern protection measures, including bomb blast protection, emergency back-up systems, and triple-glazed windows that make use of 25 different types of glass. The ancient temple style of the exterior was an effect created by building up numerous layered blocks, laid out to create 60 separate roof areas.

The building extends considerably below street level, has protective moats and is rumoured to include an underground corridor stretching beneath the Thames to Whitehall.

[edit] Completion

The building was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in July 1994. It has since featured prominently in several recent films of the James Bond franchise, including 'The World Is Not Enough' in 1999 when part of the building appeared to be blown up in a terrorist attack and 'Spectre' in 2015 in which it was portrayed as a ruin awaiting demolition.

In 2011 the SIS Building was voted one of the world's 30 ugliest buildings by the Telegraph property team.

[edit] Project data

  • Address: 85 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall, Lambeth
  • Completed: 1994
  • Architect: Terry Farrell and Partners
  • Developer: Regalian Properties plc
  • Main contractor: John Laing plc
  • Owner: HM Government

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