Salvation Army International Headquarters, Queen Victoria Street, London, UK

Sheppard Robson
Date Built
101 Queen Victoria Street
The Salvation Army have occupied this site on Queen Victoria Street since its founder William Booth came upon a former billiard hall to let and decided that it would make a suitable headquarters.  This is the third generation of buildings that have served as the International Headquarters of the Army on this site. 

William Booth's billiard hall headquarters of 1881 was badly damaged during the London Blitz of 1941 and it wasn't until 1963 that a new building replaced it on this site.  It was occupied by the International Headquarters and the UK Territory office.  It is indicated by the white arrow in the image below.

Below is another view of the site, taken from across the river in the 1970s long before the Millennium Bridge was built.

In 1999 the UK headquarters moved into their own building at Elephant and Castle.  Sheppard Robson then designed a new building for the International Headquarters. 

Before this building could be erected, the site was excavated and the oldest evidence of occupation discovered dated back to First Century Roman London.  At that time, the Thames was almost 50 metres further north than it is today, and the building on the site was a riverside warehouse, although ironically there was also evidence of a temple complex.  Further irony comes from the fact that archeological evidence suggest that over the centuries buildings on the site were often connected with the production and/or consumption of alcohol.

The site was larger than they needed so the design called for two connected buildings to be built.  The one you see, on the right below, for the Salvation Army to occupy, and next to it a speculative office building which would be let on a 150 year lease. Effectively this meant that the Army got its new headquarters free of charge since the revenue from one building paid for the other.

The archeological finds were studied and recorded by staff from the London Museum and then sealed and closed over in case an opportunity to study them further presents itself again in the future.  To minimize the impact of a building sitting on top of the ancient remains, the new building is supported on a series of h-shaped concrete beams.  The floor plates of 101 Queen Victoria Street do not extend out to the curtain wall creating, in essence, an atrium effect on three sides of the interior.

Reflecting the site's Roman past the architects based the interior on the layout of a Roman military camp with the General in the centre.  To this end the General and Deputy have offices on the first floor in the middle of the building next to the chapel.

Transparency was an important goal.  A walkway outside of the building allows passers-by to walk north to St. Paul's and south to the Millennium Bridge and Tate Modern.  A constant flow of people use the walkway every day.

The Army wanted people to be able to look out at the world around and for the people passing by to see in.  To that end the building is swathed in glass although from an aesthetic point of view and a purely practical point of view, it was necessary to decorate the glass so that people weren't injured by its transparency.  So the outside walls are decorated with quotations ..........

 .......  and inside you will see discrete grey Salvation Army Shields running along the glass walls.

At the heart of the building is a small chapel on the first floor that protrudes out from the building over the entrance doorway.

It has tinted glass walls that, with the cooperation of sunshine, give it an internal golden glow.  It also features louvered glass panels on the sloping end wall which reflect the sky giving the sense that you are looking up towards the heavens.

In the basement of the building is public café

The Salvation Army owns the land on which the walkway outside sits.  What the thousands of tourists who wander along it probably don't realize is that below their feet the Army has meeting rooms.

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