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26-30 Kensington Palace Gardens

From 1970 until the break-up of Czechoslovakia in 1993 the Czechoslovak Embassy has been located on the corner of Kensington Palace Gardens and Notting Hill Gate. The new building, designed by the architects Šrámek, Bočan and Stephansplatz, is a tribute to the so called brutalistic style and in 1971 won the coveted RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Award for Architecture. Today's Czech Embassy is housed in the building originally intended for residential use and the commercial and consular departments. The main representative and administrative building of the former joint Embassy now serves the Slovak Embassy.

Although in the seventies architectural brutalism degenerated into the austere prefabricated housing estates which can still be seen today, in the sixties, when the Embassy building was being built, it was a modern creative act, an attempt to be free from socialist realism and log on to the modern world trends in architecture. This trend was affirmed by the collaboration with the British architect Robert Matthew, the author of the Royal Festival Hall.

In accordance with the principles of brutalism the exterior of the Embassy is built of reinforced concrete panels and glass and wooden partitions that divide the interiors. Decorative ornamentation on the exterior was refused by the makers, it is replaced by unsealed joints between panels or scratches that remained after pneumatic drilling and removed boarding. On the interior, some of the leading Czechoslovak artists of the time, including Stanislav Kolíbal and Adriana Šimotová, participated in designing the inside.

Today the building housing the Embassy of the Czech Republic faces Notting Hill Gate Street. Primarily the original purpose of this section was to fulfill a residential function. Four floors were filled with apartments for employees and their families and on the fifth floor, a common dining area was situated. The ground floor consisted of the offices of the Consulate and some smaller official meeting rooms and, on the mezzanine, the offices were used by the commercial section of the Embassy. In the basement there were changing rooms, a garage, a spacious movie theater and connecting corridors between the two buildings. The Ambassador’s office and the offices of those performing other official functions of the Czechoslovak Embassy as well as official entertainment and events were in the other smaller separate building which now serves as the Embassy of the Slovak Republic.  Few people know that the Embassy of the Czech Republic also includes a small kiosk on Palace Gardens Terrace, which for many years was used as a bookshop.

After completion of the present refurbishment the building will host not only the Embassy, ​​but also the offices of CzechTourism, CzechInvest, CzechTrade and the Czech Centre, thus it will become a truly "Czech House" in the heart of London. The underground cinema is also being repaired and will be open to the public. A suitable use will be found for the former bookshop on Palace Gardens Terrace.