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Mountbatten House (formerly Gateway House), Basing View

A Grade II Listed Building in Eastrop, Hampshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.2682 / 51°16'5"N

Longitude: -1.0741 / 1°4'26"W

OS Eastings: 464691

OS Northings: 152520

OS Grid: SU646525

Mapcode National: GBR B6H.K7X

Mapcode Global: VHD08.BDJ5

Entry Name: Mountbatten House (formerly Gateway House), Basing View

Listing Date: 26 January 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1421570

Location: Basingstoke and Deane, Hampshire, RG21

County: Hampshire

District: Basingstoke and Deane

Electoral Ward/Division: Eastrop

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Basingstoke

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Basingstoke

Church of England Diocese: Winchester

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Basingstoke

Summary

Former headquarters for the paper merchants Wiggins Teape built in 1974-76 to designs by Arup Associates’ Group 2.

Description

Former headquarters for the paper merchants Wiggins Teape built in 1974-76 to designs by Arup Associates’ Group 2, with associated landscaping by James Russell.

MATERIALS: a pre-cast reinforced concrete frame clad with bronze-anodised aluminium and bronze tinted glass set in steel box mullions, with two projecting stair towers in blue engineering brick. Concrete slabs to the flat roof gardens over the offices, which have a cellular glass waterproof membrane covered in three layers of mastic asphalt protected by a cement and sand screed, and topped with soil to a minimum depth of 225mm rising to 900mmm.

PLAN: an almost square plan oriented north-south, almost symmetrical about a north-west to south-east diagonal axis, which to the south steps down on the diagonal in a series of terraces (roof gardens) down to a courtyard. The stair towers at the south-west and south-east corners have a square plan with rounded corners. At basement level is a large car park. The lower-ground floor consisting of plant rooms and offices, which give access to a courtyard with pond and stepping stones. The entrance and reception at ground floor level are flanked by a double height staff restaurant and plant room, with offices behind, giving access to a large roof garden. The first, second, and third floors each have an open plan office (some now subdivided) opening onto roof gardens.

EXTERIOR: the slightly raised, formal entrance facing Basing View, accessed via broad steps, comprises of two high wings of four storeys plus basement. At the junction of the wings a double-height opening, four bays square, signals the main entrance. The elevations are composed of a repeated 7.5m bay module, with full-width glazing, subdivided into five lights on a planning module of 1.5m. The external cladding consists of deep bronzed-aluminium spandrel panels with mitred joints and a chamfered frame (manufactured by Josef Gartner of Munich). The full height brick stair towers have narrow slit glazing. The stepped elevation to the rear south-east side of the building, is characterised by a series of cascading roof gardens abundantly planted with trees, shrubs and climbers. The glazing to the front of the building is flush with its concrete frame, whilst that to the rear elevations is recessed to limit solar heat gain.

INTERIOR: internal lay-out and circulation survives largely intact, though parts of the open-plan offices to each floor have now been subdivided. Internal features, fixtures and fittings include cruciform-shaped concrete columns supporting pre-cast coffered ceilings forming distinct truncated pyramids with integrated light fittings; the lift lobbies and staircase walls have travertine marble panelling, while the two curved walls to the stair towers are in exposed brick. The plant room has ceramic tiled flooring and skirting. In the basement a large c144m3 galvanised steel tank held rainwater to irrigate the roof garden (out of use in 2014).

History

Gateway House, now called Mountbatten House, was built in 1974-76 to designs by Arup Associates as the new Head Quarters for the paper manufacturer and merchant Wiggins Teape (WT). Wiggins Teape, founded in 1761 as a paper merchants in Aldgate, London, first started manufacturing paper in 1880. From the early C20, the company, by then known as Wiggins, Teape & Co, focussed on producing fine paper, including photographic paper. In 1957 the company’s name changed to Wiggins Teape, and by 1961 it owned 11 paper mills in the UK and had 10,700 employees. In 1970 the company became a wholly subsidiary of the BAT industries group. They commissioned Arup Associates in 1973 to design their new headquarters in Basing View, a new business park in Basingstoke started in the early 1970s successfully aiming to attract large companies from London and other cities.

Arup Associates’ brief required an efficient, cost-effective building for up to 1000 staff, with the flexibility of use and a variety of spaces suitable for open-plan and private offices. High rates of car-ownership meant that car parking had to be plentiful and non-obtrusive. Arup Associates’ Group 2, led by Peter Foggo started on the design of the building in mid-1973. It consisted of a pre-cast reinforced concrete frame with bronze-anodised aluminium and glass cladding, and was to be built to a virtually square plan oriented north-south. To the south the elevation stepped down to a series of symmetrical roof terraces to either side of a central diagonal axis, leading to a courtyard. The building covered a large car-park at basement level. The idea for the creation of a series of abundantly planted roof gardens for Gateway House formed part of Arup Associates’ design from the outset. They commissioned James Russell to design an extensive planting scheme and to oversee the works involved, carried out together with the landscape contractor Charles Funke of Flowerhouse Display Ltd.

John Winter (AJ 1977) suggested Gateway House was influenced by Roche and Dinkeloo's Oakland Museum in California (1961-68) and the Weyerhaeuser Headquarters, near Tacoma, Washington by SOM (1968-71), two buildings with extensive roof gardens and planting. Gateway House is also believed to have been inspired by Herman Hertzberger’s offices for Centraal Beheer in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, completed in 1972. Peter Foggo took his team to visit this building which consists of a series of square workspaces planned on a tartan grid and externally expressed as a series of stepped roof terraces.

Starting with their university work in the 1960s, Arup Associates developed a series of projects where a repeated ceiling bay served as the basis for the integration of structure, servicing and spatial organisation. Gateway House was the first application of this idea to an office, where the repeated module lent a sense of scale and character to deep open-plan interiors, and allowed the usual suspended ceiling to be dispensed with. The hollow coffered units, in the form of truncated pyramids, were compared to Louis Kahn’s Trenton Community Centre.

On completion, Gateway House was awarded the RIBA Award Southern Region (1979), the Business & Industry Award (1978) and a Civic Trust Award Commendation (1978).

In 1981 Wiggins Teape sold Gateway House on a sale-leaseback arrangement and exercised its option on the neighbouring plot to develop a smaller speculative office block designed to complement Gateway House. Gateway II was completed in 1982 also to designs by Arup Associates’ Group 2, with a matching exterior (under consideration for listing). By then Wiggins Teape had resolved to sell Gateway House to IBM, and moved into the new building. IBM commissioned DEGW (now Strategy Plus) to re-plan the office interiors. Gateway House is now (2014) owned by the Borough Council who let it out as offices.

Reasons for Listing

Mountbatten House (formerly Gateway House), Basing View, Basingstoke, the former headquarters for the paper merchants Wiggins Teape built in 1974-76 to designs by Arup Associates’ Group 2, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: it is an unusual and distinct example of 1970s commercial office architecture by Arup Associates’ Group 2, showing innovative and good quality design and use of materials in both its exterior and interior;
* Historical interest: aside from its immediate association with the nationally important architects firm Arup Associates the building has an important historic association with the nationally renowned garden designer James Russell (the roof gardens being one of his key works). Additionally, the building's association with Wiggins Teape, an important and well-known British paper manufacturer, add further to its special interest;
* Intactness: its exterior has survived remarkably intact, with no later alterations, and despite some internal re-ordering its plan form and interior, through the survival of key fixtures and fittings, retains a good degree of authenticity;
* Group value: it forms an integral part of its particularly important associated landscaping by James Russell (recommended for inclusion on the Register of Parks and Gardens at Grade II).

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