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Canada House, located on Trafalgar Square in Central London, has been Canada’s diplomatic home since 1925. But as diplomatic functions expanded and technology evolved, Canada House didn’t keep up—it didn’t celebrate the best of Canada and couldn’t accommodate all the required staff. In this latest renovation every effort has been made to showcase Canada’s natural materials and craftsmanship. This is Canada in the 21st century: a vast country, rich in natural resources and talented people, touched by three oceans, ready to shape our future—and building on the traditions and friendships of the past.

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staff

From foreign policy and diplomatic services to immigration, border services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, consular services, and Canada’s trade commissioners service, Canada House unites 270 Canadian High Commission staff in a new work community.

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meeting rooms

Three for the territories, three for the oceans, ten for the provinces, and four for Canadian Prime Ministers who were influential in Canada-United Kingdom relations

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bespoke pieces

Canada House was made unique with 25 custom furniture pieces and 29 custom carpets.

Local perspectives were the foundation of Canada House’s story. We pulled together teammates from all over the country to lend expertise about their home provinces, territories, and regions—expertise that helped us create a unified design.

Uncovering the day

One goal of the renovation was to find ways to drive natural light deeper.

The Queen Elizabeth Atrium, a convenient meeting place for staff, brings natural light into the heart of the building. Each flight, as well as rising vertically, steps horizontally across the atrium, allowing daylight to reach each level while providing a clear view from above.

But as we worked, we found even more opportunities.

The renovations uncovered four original skylights between the two buildings. After refurbishment, the skylights became feature elements that delivered abundant daylight to Canada House’s interior.

Beneath the skylights, open workspaces provide flexible and varied accommodation, supporting a number of diplomatic functions. We punched out the ceiling and reinstated the historical double-height space, all while protecting the iconic heritage features.

From layout to furnishings, this workplace exemplifies contemporary design.

It blends collaborative and independent staff workspaces to increase productivity and satisfaction.

With the curated art, sweeping lines, and bright spaces, some people have even remarked that the new design feels like working “in an art gallery.” Modern, open, and socially cohesive—bringing staff together like never before.

Before
After

Breaking open

During the renovation we took down a few walls to make workspaces more open and inviting. They got the modern treatment, but they kept their historical features: moldings, skylights, windows, and more. The updated spaces are a functional combination of old and new.

Canada is one of the world’s largest exporters of wood. Wood became a unifying theme and material throughout the building—from red oak floors and a hemlock-clad atrium to the naturally-enhanced pine beetle wood in the Pacific Room.

Trafalgar rejuvenation

For a long time, few people actually knew the purpose or location of Canada House. With this remodel, we aimed to change that.

Re-opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in February 2015, Canada House now celebrates and gives voice to all Canadians from every region and every walk of life. 

As the UK’s foremost Commonwealth partner, we felt those voices deserved a prominent presence in one of London’s busiest squares.

Enlivening the west side of Trafalgar Square, Canada House is now open for business and working on behalf of all Canadians.

If you’re looking for a taste of Canada while in London, visit the Canada House Gallery space, accessed from the Pall Mall entry—it’s free, open daily, and contains a window into contemporary Canadian art.

We're better together

Our work begins at the intersection of community, creativity, and client relationships. With a long-term commitment to the people and places we serve, we have the unique ability to connect to projects on a personal level and advance the quality of life in communities across the globe.

Noel Best
Principal
Noel Best
Principal

We brought a contemporary sense of place to this design—open, spacious, and naturally lit—with artfulness and abundant craft.… Read More

Aaron Taylor
Principal, Business Development and Education Leader
Aaron Taylor
Principal, Business Development and Education Leader

Our goal for this project was to return Canada House to its original architectural glory—to create a jewel that celebrates 21st century Canada in the heart of the United Kingdom.… Read More

Brent North
Vice President, Discipline Leader, Architecture
Brent North
Vice President, Discipline Leader, Architecture

A phone rings. It’s September 16, 2014. “We need you in London, Brent.” Sometimes a challenge opens doors you never imagined. Say “yes.”… Read More

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