Export House

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Export House
Export House.JPG
Export House in 2011
General information
Status Complete
Type Office
Location Woking, Surrey, UK
Completed 1974
Height
Roof 73 metres (240 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 15 at ground level or above
Lifts/elevators 4

Export House in Woking, Surrey, is a tall office building formerly also known as the BAT Building during its tenancy by British American Tobacco. It is the tallest in Woking and among the five tallest buildings in Surrey. Its height is 73 metres (240 ft) spread over its 18 floors (15 above ground).

History[edit]

Export House was the significantly tallest aspect of the Surrey town regeneration after World War II, which centred on the expansion and improvement of satellite towns, in this county being Guildford and Woking. It was built at the same time as the Wolsey Place Shopping Centre, which is a contiguous building. Export House is the tallest building in the borough of Woking. Construction of Export House finished in 1974. It became tenant-ready in 1976 when it was part-let to the first lessee, BAT who then expanded across the remaining floors.

Export House within Woking's skyline, 2011

Tenants and lessees[edit]

In 1976, British American Tobacco moved in as the first tenant, making it their headquarters. Export House had already been completed two years previously in 1974. In 1997 BAT chose to relocate to a new building in London.[1] Accordingly it was for some time also known as the BAT Building. It is the tallest building in Woking and among the five tallest buildings in the county.[1][2][3][2] Its height is 73 metres (240 ft)[4] and has 18 storeys (15 floors above ground).

Telewest moved into Export House during summer 2001 after a £15 million refurbishment.[5] Telewest had rented the top six floors for about a year before they moved permanently to Export House. Their previous base was in Sheerwater also by the South Western Main Line in the borough. Telewest vacated in 2006 after a merger and consolidation with NTL.[6] From a deal of 2008 Mustang Engineering began to occupy for a few years and in the 2010s were succeeded by Mouchel Group who moved from West Hall in nearby West Byfleet.[7]

Future[edit]

The block has set a precedent for iconic, complimentary buildings being open to consideration under the subsisting (since 1999) Woking Borough Local Plan: Woking Town Centre Policies.[8] A nearby development, Victoria Way, has been approved, the first-planned tower of which would have been two metres taller and with more storeys, which was revised on aesthetic, character grounds to an equal 15-floor office block. [9][10]

Wildlife[edit]

A pair of peregrine falcons nest on top of the building.[2] These birds are rare, but they are often seen flying around Woking. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds requested that people should not disturb the pair of falcons.

A semi-cross section view of Export House in 2007, taken from Guildford Road near Woking railway station

Architecture[edit]

Export House is of modular design, chamfered on the narrow west façade/parapet and lightly storey-grooved. It avoided the tri-dimensional symmetry of some of its shorter-lived contemporaries. Export House has no explicit or implicit reference to compulsory or encouraged complete demolition in the mid-term local plan.[8] From 2000 to 2007 the structure bore an air pollution-stained upper exterior so appeared more brutalist than old and new buildings of the town centre. The 1950s to 1980s saw commercial office mid-cost construction sceptical of fancy classical architecture while remaining polite, incorporating subtle asymmetry such as with stylised ends, roofs or windows in a maximal façade: as in London's Guy's Hospital and the Royal Festival Hall.[11] In Surrey, comparable buildings are the Chubb Tower and within 500m of border of Ewell, Surrey, the Tolworth Tower in Greater London. Export House has a staircase and four lifts adjacent to the main entrance in the western facade. The building has radio and telecom masts appropriate for its height and deep parapet roof.

Location[edit]

The building is part-above Wolsey Place Shopping Centre, its entrance being next to one of the latter's main entrance. Beneath the shopping centre is a private, gated car park underneath; opposite is a multi-storey car park. Occupying part of a commercial block of the entirely commercial-leisure town centre it is classed as on Cawsey Way.

Export House, New Central and Centrium in central Woking's skyline are clearly visible from the Hog's Back, the narrow western ridge of the North Downs 7 miles (11 km) south, the closest point of these downs is the west bank of the Wey, Guildford and Pewley Down which commands the east bank, including Guildford Castle.[12]

Public access[edit]

The building has occasionally been open to the public on tours for Heritage Open Days.[13] Tours last for approximately 30 minutes. The last open day to date appears to have been 2010.[needs update]

Gallery[edit]

The first two pictures were taken during December 2011. A large Christmas tree configuration of lights formed part of Woking's Christmas celebrations.

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Surrey loses 600 jobs as BAT is lured to London". Get Surrey. Trinity Mirror. 28 February 1997. Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c "High-flying residents in penthouse roost". Get Wokingham. Trinity Mirror. 7 June 2007. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  3. ^ Will Forster (22 February 2010). "Council buys shopping centre". MyCouncillor.org.uk. Archived from the original on 2 September 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  4. ^ "In pictures: View from the top of the Hogs Back (slide 4)". BBC News Online. 30 November 2009. Retrieved 19 March 2017. In the foreground is the 73 metre (240 ft) Export House office block built in the centre of Woking. in 1973. It was the headquarters of British American Tobacco and is currently home to the Mouchel Group PLC. It is the town's tallest building. 
  5. ^ "New Tenants for Local Landmark". Woking District Council. 28 January 2000. Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  6. ^ James Welsh (10 March 2006). "Telewest's Woking headquarters to close". Digital Spy. 
  7. ^ "MCHL Mouchel Group plc". London Stock Exchange. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "Local Plan 1999: Woking Town Centre". Woking Borough Council. Archived from the original on 19 March 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2015. See particularly Chapter 12 of the plan. 
  9. ^ "Victoria Way". Skyscraper News. 6 October 2009. Archived from the original on 19 March 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  10. ^ "Altura, Woking". Archived from the original on 7 February 2011. 
  11. ^ McKean, John (2001). Architecture in Detail: Royal Festival Hall. New York: Phaidon Press. ISBN 0-7148-4160-9. 
  12. ^ Grid reference Finder measurement tools
  13. ^ Building tours info [1]

Coordinates: 51°19′20.76″N 0°34′14.17″W / 51.3224333°N 0.5706028°W / 51.3224333; -0.5706028