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This was my thesis project; researched and designed in my final year of MArch study at the University of Sheffield. I was a part of Studio 1 which is run by Russell Light. Please visit the studio blog to read more about the research area and other students work.

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The site is situated between the Piazza de Trevi, where the famous fountain sits, and Piazza Colonna, the area infront of the Italian Parliament. The program amalgamates the 3 British entities present in Rome at this time; the diplomatic operations of the Embassy and Consulate, the promotional and tacitly political British Council, and the academic endeavours of the British School at Rome. This assembly intends to create a site of condensed British activity and a potent tool for the manipulation of a national image.

The British Centre is a point of controlled dissemination in a foreign territory which the British government can use to continue diplomatic conversations but layered up with cultural and promotional programs associated with the expansion of the creative industry as a main component of Britain’s economy. The existing typology of the British embassy is used as a start point where the modern embassy operation has two main roles; administration and symbolic representation. Questions as to whether they are still required as a Government operation can perhaps be directed to how can we best utilise what they do and the contacts they have. This project looks for a re-situation of the embassy as more active slave to the economy, rather than a show-piece for the presentation of new policies abroad.

A new public piazza is created as the core to the building anatomy. This is the result of research to create an updated version of Nolli’s mapping of the Rome which drew a distinction between civic and private space. The use of retail, perhaps the most prevalent form of public space in cities and modern life, as a way of promoting British creative companies whilst maintaining a secure embassy, is played upon with elements of the design. These include a planted grass wall which can become a billboard by using a robotic mower, a set of spaces which rise and fall like lifts between levels of the building and whose function change with this movement, a public ramped route around the piazza and an auditorium space.

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