Africa House, London

Trehearne & Norman
Date Built
1921 - 22
Africa House is a Grade II Listed mixed-use building on the Kingsway in Central London.  When listed English Heritage described it as a, "... Large office block with shops at ground floor. 1921-2. by Trehearne and Norman. Portland stone faced steel frame.  6 storeys and 2 storey set back attic. 9 windows. .....

 ... Double  height fluted Doric screen, with inset shops and bank, flanks a round-arched triumphal arch style entrance inscribed "Africa House" and surmounted by lions couchant."

"Upper storeys set  back with central distyle-in-antis screen rising from 3rd to 5th floor; metal-framed windows, 5th floor with Greek scroll aprons and enrichment to heads of bays suggesting pilasters. Entablature with deep mutule cornice surmounted by a pediment of carved figures and animals."

The "Ornamental Passsions" website describes this collectiuon of figures as being, "By Benjamin Clemens, assistant master at the Royal College of Art, the group has Britannia at its centre, flanked by noble Arab traders with their camels and a big game hunter oiling his rifle. A native bearer carries a pair of tusks while the hunter's victim lies open-eyed and tuskless next to them. Other animals include a lion, a crocodile, a bison and the largest python you ever did see."

In recent years J M Architects have been involved in a program that extended, remodeled and comprehensively refurbished the building.  The project was completed in 2013 and resulted in, "... This landmark building (being) brought up to date, with flexible user-friendly accommodation, an ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating and 30,000ft2 of additional lettable space.  The spectacular double-height reception retains many of its original marble features, complemented by new contemporary finishes. The centrepiece of the buildings re-creation is a dramatic full-height atrium that contains four new lifts and brings life and light into every floor."

A Weatherspoons pub called the "Shakespeares Head" is one of the building's occupants.  Weatherspoons explain that the pub is named after a famous namesake that once stood in nearby Wych Street that was, in its day, frequented by actors and literary figures including Charles Dickens.

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