The Kenya High Commission

1 of 4
45 Portland Place
Main stairwell
Principal rooms
Dry rot infestation
The sensitive renovation of the Kenya High Commission’s Grade II* Listed building. We were appointed to oversee the challenging remodelling and repairs to this historic and neglected embassy building in the heart of London. This involved a detailed investigation of the entire building, moving the embassy staff to an alternative building and ensuring that short time scales were met and delivered on budget.

The imposing building, which stands opposite the RIBA, was designed by James Adam in 1774. The Kenya High Commission were keen to see the building restored to its former glory and remain sympathetic to the traditional neighbouring buildings, despite being exempt from local authority requirements.

A major task was to discover how much dry rot lay within the Listed building and to do this without destroying the unique plaster work. Working with specialist consultants for damp proving and timber infestation, ‘Hutton and Rostron’ delivered a innovative method of preserving the majority of the timber with minimal intervention. English Heritage and structural engineers were also consulted to produce a detailed evaluation of the structural integrity of the building and to decide whether to demolish or rebuild the five-storey bay on the rear elevation.

The major original elements of the building were restored by meticulous remedial works including; brick stitching across major cracks; the addition of steel rods to areas that needed reinforcing; casting concrete beams at each floor level, tied back to new floors to stabilise the structure; and eradicating the dry rot by removing those timber lintels affected together with replacing some of the shutter boxes and timber panelling with matching timber profiles.

Security and surveillance equipment was installed under the recommendations of the Diplomatic Protection Unit along with bullet-proof glazing to front bay windows and an anti-bandit glazing to the reception desk.

A specialist monumental mason was engaged to ensure Adam’s craftsmanship was preserved who commented that the main fireplace within the building was the one of the finest he had ever seen.

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Renovating grade II* Listed embassy
The Kenya High Commission
45 Portland Place


Kenya High Commission


RIBA Stages

Proposed use

Site history

Built by James Adam in 1774 for John Elwes who held the lease for the Duke of Portland. The building was extended and altered in the nineteenth century with two ground floor rooms added in 1907 by W.D Caroe.

Site area


Gross internal area




Plot ratio


Construction value


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