Unilever House
Unilever House is a Grade II listed office building in the Neoclassical
Neoclassical architecture
Neoclassical architecture was an architectural style produced by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century, manifested both in its details as a reaction against the Rococo style of naturalistic ornament, and in its architectural formulas as an outgrowth of some classicizing...

 Art Deco
Art Deco
Art deco , or deco, is an eclectic artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s, into the World War II era. The style influenced all areas of design, including architecture and interior design, industrial design, fashion and...

 style, located on New Bridge Street, Victoria Embankment
Victoria Embankment
The Victoria Embankment is part of the Thames Embankment, a road and river walk along the north bank of the River Thames in London. Victoria Embankment extends from the City of Westminster into the City of London.-Construction:...

 in Blackfriars, London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, UK. The building has a tall, curving frontage which overlooks Blackfriars Bridge
Blackfriars Bridge
Blackfriars Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge over the River Thames in London, between Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Railway Bridge, carrying the A201 road. The north end is near the Inns of Court and Temple Church, along with Blackfriars station...

 on the north bank of the River Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...


The site of Unilever House was previously occupied by Bridewell Palace
Bridewell Palace
Bridewell Palace in London, originally a residence of King Henry VIII, later became a poorhouse and prison. The name "Bridewell" subsequently became synonymous with police stations and detention facilities in England and in Ireland...

, a residence of Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

, which later became a poorhouse and prison. These buildings were destroyed in 1864 to make way for the De Keyser Royal Hotel. In 1920, Lord Leverhulme
William Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme
William Hesketh Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme was an English industrialist, philanthropist, and politician....

 leased the site to build the London headquarters of his soap manufacturing company Lever Brothers
Lever Brothers
Lever Brothers was a British manufacturer founded in 1885 by William Hesketh Lever and his brother, James Darcy Lever . The brothers had invested in and promoted a new soap making process invented by chemist William Hough Watson, it was a huge success...

, which became Unilever
Unilever is a British-Dutch multinational corporation that owns many of the world's consumer product brands in foods, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products....

 in 1930. Construction did not commence until 1929.


The building design and construction is thought to be a collaboration between James Lomax-Simpson, a member of the Unilever Board, and John James Burnet
John James Burnet
Sir John James Burnet was a Scottish Edwardian architect who was noted for a number of prominent buildings in Glasgow, Scotland and London, England...

 and Thomas S. Tait
Thomas S. Tait
Thomas Smith Tait was a prominent Scottish Modernist architect. He designed a number of buildings around the world in Art Deco and Streamline Moderne styles, notably St...

, partners in the firm of Sir John Burnet and Partners. However, there is some uncertainty over the credit for the design; a note by Simpson claims exclusive credit, suggesting that Burnet and Tait only approved the final design. Burnet and Tait exhibited the design as a joint work with Simpson at the Royal Academy
Royal Academy
The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly, London. The Royal Academy of Arts has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and...

, and the drawings held at the City of London Record Office are signed by Burnet and Tait alone.

John James Burnet, although actve in this project, was retiring around this time due to ill health, and Tait, a leading practitioner of modern architecture
Modern architecture
Modern architecture is generally characterized by simplification of form and creation of ornament from the structure and theme of the building. It is a term applied to an overarching movement, with its exact definition and scope varying widely...

, worked on aspects of the building design.


The most striking aspect of the building is its enormous curving frontage along the Victoria Embankment, with its giant Ionic columns between the fourth and sixth floors. The heavily rusticated
Rustication (architecture)
thumb|upright|Two different styles of rustication in the [[Palazzo Medici-Riccardi]] in [[Florence]].In classical architecture rustication is an architectural feature that contrasts in texture with the smoothly finished, squared block masonry surfaces called ashlar...

 ground floor is windowless to reduce traffic noise inside the building. The corners are marked by entrances surmounted by large plinths on which are placed sculptures of human figures restraining horses (called Controlled Energy) by Sir William Reid Dick
William Reid Dick
Sir William Reid, Dick was a Scottish sculptor known for his innovative stylization of form in his monument sculptures and simplicity in his portraits. He became an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1921, and a Royal Academician in 1928. Dick served as president of the Royal Society of British...

. Merman
Mermen are mythical male equivalents of mermaids – legendary creatures who have the form of a human from the waist up and are fish-like from the waist down.-Mythology:...

 and mermaid
A mermaid is a mythological aquatic creature with a female human head, arms, and torso and the tail of a fish. A male version of a mermaid is known as a "merman" and in general both males and females are known as "merfolk"...

 figures are by Gilbert Ledward
Gilbert Ledward
Gilbert Ledward RA , was an English sculptor.He won the Prix de Rome for sculpture in 1913, and in World War I served in the Royal Garrison Artillery and later as a war artist. He was professor of sculpture at the Royal College of Art and in 1937 was elected a Royal Academician...

. The original lift cars
An elevator is a type of vertical transport equipment that efficiently moves people or goods between floors of a building, vessel or other structures...

 were lined with art deco pewter panels designed by Eric Gill
Eric Gill
Arthur Eric Rowton Gill was a British sculptor, typeface designer, stonecutter and printmaker, who was associated with the Arts and Crafts movement...



A refurbishment of 1977-83 saw the addition of parapet figures by Nicholas Munro and a new north entrance lobby in a Neo Art Deco style, by Theo Crosby
Theo Crosby
Theo Crosby was an architect, editor, writer and sculptor, engaged with major developments in design across four decades. He was also an early vocal critic of modern urbanism. He is best remembered as a founding partner of the international design partnership Pentagram, and as architect for the...

 of Pentagram
Pentagram (design studio)
Pentagram is a design studio that was founded in 1972 by Alan Fletcher, Theo Crosby, Colin Forbes, Kenneth Grange and Mervyn Kurlansky in Needham Road, West London, UK...

. The building has been extended along Tudor Street.

In 2004, the firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates began renovation work in consultation with English Heritage
English Heritage
English Heritage . is an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport...

 and the City of London
City of London
The City of London is a small area within Greater London, England. It is the historic core of London around which the modern conurbation grew and has held city status since time immemorial. The City’s boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, and it is now only a tiny part of...

to make alterations to the interior work space. As part of the renovations, original fittings were retained or re-used, such as parquet flooring or Eric Gill's pewter lift car panels, but Crosby's distinctive and historically-important additions were removed. A roof garden was created on top of the building.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.