Former Birds Eye HQ, Walton, Surrey
Designed in the 1960s by Sir John Burnet, Tait and Partners, the successors to a practice that produced consistently fine and original buildings from the 1880s onwards, Birds Eye was one of the first corporate HQs to be built outside London in the American manner.
Listed at Grade II in 1995, this three storey building is arranged around two internal courtyards. Most striking are the facades, made up of plate glass curtain walling, blue vitreous enamelled panels and repeating half-hexagonal aluminium sections attached to thin aluminium mullions.
Landscaping was designed by artist Philip Hicks who set back the main building to be viewed across a lawn and behind a long rectangular pool which runs its length. Hicks also oversaw the landscaping of the two internal courtyards, one of which contains concrete menhirs by the artist Alan Collins which are arranged around rectangular pools. A standalone of sculpture depicting rising birds by the artist John McCarthy stands next to the pool at the site’s entrance and is listed independently at Grade II (this will be relocated).
The building has been empty for 11 years and is due to be demolished to make way for 375 homes and commercial units, although it would lend itself to many possible uses including residential conversion. C20 has been unsuccessful in challenging this decision and in calling for a public inquiry.
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