• UK
  • 23:55 10 Nov 2009
  • |    Moscow
  • 02:55 11 Nov 2009

Embassy history

British Embassy Moscow

The purpose of the new building is to provide the Embassy with modern and efficient office accommodation and facilities so that it can best carry out its diplomatic, commercial, cultural and visa-issuing activities on behalf of Britain, and to project to the Russian people an up-to-date image of Britain today.  The new building also includes 31 flats for British staff to replace old or expensive accommodation that was leased elsewhere in Moscow.

The Embassy site is at 10 Smolenskaya Embankment, and comprises 0.92 hectares (2 and a quarter acres). It was offered to the British Government in the mid-1960s and exchanged for two sites in London by an Agreement signed in March 1987. HM The Queen unveiled a commemorative plaque on the site in October 1994. This plaque is displayed at the entrance to the building.  The Embassy was officially opened by HRH the Princess Royal on 17 May 2000.

The building comprises a total floor area of 21,200 m2 and seeks to display the best of British design, furniture and the visual arts. It contains:

  • offices for 250 Embassy staff (80 of them British and 170 locally employed);
  • 31 flats for staff and facilities for their recreation and welfare, including swimming pool and cafeteria;
  • medical centre and kindergarten (for use also by other Embassies in Moscow);
  • workshops and stores; and
  • covered car parking for 85 cars

There is also a reception/exhibition area, a multi-purpose hall and conference facilities. These are used to project Britain commercially and culturally.
Design work, all by major British firms, started to a revised brief by the FCO in 1992. Full planning approval was obtained in 1995 and an agreement on construction was signed with the Government of the Russian Federation in 1996. The full consultant’s team was:

Construction work started in early 1997. The contractor was a joint venture between the British firm Taylor Woodrow and the Finnish subsidiary of the Swedish firm Skanska. Most of the non-basic construction materials were sourced outside Russia, mainly in the UK, and imported via Helsinki. The labour force, which reached around 800 at its peak, was predominantly Russian except for those working on the Political Department’s offices, for which UK labour was imported for security reasons.

Visual Arts and Furniture, to exhibit the best of modern British design, have been integrated into the building since its inception. Tess Jaray’s forecourt in different granites, Norman Ackroyd’s tall etching of Wardour Castle in copper, Alexander Beleschenko’s glass wall and Roman Halter’s bronze Coat of Arms are all in place. Pieces by Michael Craig-Martin, Langlands and Bell, Juan Cruz, Martin McGinn, Alex Hartley and others have also been installed. There are prints by students and other artists throughout the building.

There is seating by furniture designers Robin Day, Scott Irvine, Ron Arad and Matthew Hilton in the reception/ exhibition areas. Richard Burton and Luke Hughes designed and made the furniture for the Ambassador’s and Minister’s offices.


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