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  • Bunhill 2 Energy Centre
  • GreenSCIES
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  • Institute of Transformational Technologies
  • Push-Pull House
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  • RHS Garden Hyde Hall Hilltop Complex
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  • RMC International HQ
  • Farnborough Grange Junior School
  • Chilworth Park Research Centre
  • Morrison Street
  • MacIntyre Milton Keynes
  • Crookham Junior School
  • Beechwood Lodge Hostel
  • Copped Hall Offices
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  • Westmoreland Road
  • Leighton Crescent
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  • Olivetti's New Branches
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View: Grid List
Masterplanning Workplace
£20m - £50m
Context Climate
Ready Mixed Concrete (Cemex)
Thorpe, Surrey
Robin Nicholson
Anthony Hunt Associates, Max Fordham LLP, Derek Lovejoy Partnership
Green Building of the Year Commendation (1992) Financial Times Architecture at Work Award (1991) Steetley Special Award (1990) Civic Trust Award (1990) RIBA Award (1990)
Treehugger (2014) On Office (2014) Arch Daily (2014) Building Design (2014) Architects’ Journal (2014)

This radical office campus sets an existing Georgian house and its stables in office courts, protected by extensive roof gardens to reduce its energy demands and minimise its impact on the Green Belt.

RMC International HQ

RMC had been trying for some time to get permission to move their HQ office to the listed Eastley End House in the village of Thorpe with mature trees and listed brick walls overlooking Manor Lake. So our first challenge was to devise a strategy that would respect the existing buildings and landscape, protect the views from the adjacent St Ann’s Hill and obtain planning through the exceptional quality of the architectural proposition.

Aerial view of the RMC International HQ


We succeeded, on appeal, with a scheme that incorporates the two original houses, the stables, the great red brick garden walls, which are a feature of the village, and the mature trees. We demolished all the extensions to Eastley End House and the hostel and laboratory building that RMC had built. 

The story of RMC HQ

We extended the garden walls to wrap around the new building and created a circular main entrance court from the north. We set Eastley End and the Stables in white steel-framed and glass courts formed by single storey offices with hedged gardens on the roof. The stables were extended in their own Arts and Crafts manner overlooking the court that tapers in response to the existing garden wall. 

While the Chairman entered through the front door of Eastley End, the main entrance led into a large lobby with reception, cafe and two squash courts leading on to a 25m swimming pool overlooking Manor Lake beyond. This convivial environment had major business benefits for RMC in encouraging social interaction between people from different departments.

A stair leads up to flexible dining rooms set in the roof gardens. Over the pool a ramped path leads up to a gazebo in homage to Philip Webb’s Joldwyns. The two air handling plants are sheltered by wisteria-covered pergolas and chess pieces house the extracts fans.

Drawing of the chess pieces to house extracts fans


Working with Max Fordham Associates and Anthony Hunt Associates, RMC is a pioneering example of integrated passive design. The concrete slab supporting the roof garden was exposed to exploit the thermal mass to absorb the heat during the day which was then restored at night by extracting air over it, cooled by the ground water as necessary.

Combined with the extensive landscape, this early use of thermal mass allowed deep plan offices to be naturally ventilated with windows and doors opening onto the garden courts. Extensively monitored by Fordhams the success of the design gave them the confidence to go on to design a range of significant low energy buildings.


RMC was bought by Cemex in 2005, RMC House becoming Cemex House.  When it was threatened with demolition in late 2013, a campaign to get it listed was based on the three radical qualities that make it so special – the convivial office design, the office in an historic landscape and the pioneering environmental design. English Heritage’s Advice Report as part of the Grade II* listing on 17th April 2014 includes the comment:

We have given particularly careful thought to this case which considers the structures and integrated landscape of Cullinan's ground-breaking scheme for commercial offices, and its response to setting in the Green Belt. In recommending listing, and in the extent of listing, we recognise the undoubted quality, significance and influence of this important project by a major architectural practice.

Ted Cullinan draws the story of RMC HQ at the Twentieth Century Society campaign event in support of listing the building