Waterside (building)

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Waterside (building) is located in Greater London
Waterside (building)
Location within Greater London
General information
Town or cityHarmondsworth
Coordinates51°29′08″N 0°29′10″W / 51.48556°N 0.48611°W / 51.48556; -0.48611Coordinates: 51°29′08″N 0°29′10″W / 51.48556°N 0.48611°W / 51.48556; -0.48611
Construction started1995
OwnerBritish Airways
Design and construction
ArchitectNiels Torp
Services engineerCundall Johnston and Partners

The Waterside building in Harmondsworth, Greater London, is the international head office of British Airways;[1] it also houses the operational head office of BA's parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG).[2] The building and landscaping, which cost £200 million,[3] is on Harmondsworth Moor, northwest of Heathrow Airport, between the M4 and the M25 motorways in the linear Colne Valley regional park.[4] Waterside is on the western edge of Greater London, near West Drayton and Uxbridge, in the Borough of Hillingdon[5][6]

The building is likely to be demolished as part of the controversial construction of a third runway at Heathrow.[7]


British Airways originally submitted a planning application to the London Borough of Hillingdon in 1990 to build what was then called "Prospect Park" on Harmondsworth Moor. This was withdrawn as the airline believed it would be declined on environmental grounds. An alternative plan was drawn up, promising that the moor would be redeveloped and much of the greenspace conserved, which was accepted.[8]

Construction started in September 1995. The project also involved clearing and landscaping the site which was derelict to create a large public park and nature reserve, with a visitor centre. The building was progressively opened between December 1997 and May 1998. The first section of the public park was opened in June 1998, with the remainder in 1999.[citation needed]

The architects were Niels Torp,[9] supported by RHWL. The Building Services Engineers were Cundall, the Structural Engineers Buro Happold, the Construction Managers were Mace and the Landscape Architects were LUC.[citation needed]

The building was completed in June 1998.[10] The building, which held its official opening in 1998, includes six sections backing onto a 175-metre (574 ft) glazed atrium street; each section represents a continent served by British Airways.[11] Each section has a different theme based on the continent. For instance, Cherry trees are planted in the Asia-themed section, Eucalyptus trees are planted in the Australia-themed section, Birch saplings were planted in the Europe section, and Hardwood saplings are planted in the North America-themed section. Nonie Niesewand of The Independent said that the head office site is "the size of a small town, but on a site as big as Regent's Park".[9] The building was nicknamed "Ayling Island", after BA chief executive Bob Ayling, by local taxi drivers.[12]

The design includes comprising six limestone-clad four-storey horseshoe-shaped sections which all back on to an internal 'street' that runs inside an atrium. The street is paved in granite slabs and cobblestones, has bridges which cross it overhead, linking the individual buildings, and is looked over by balconies which lead off the bridges. The street houses a health centre, hairdressing and beauty salon, travel centre, Waitrose supermarket, restaurants and cafés and a 400-seater auditorium.[13] Jeremy Myerson, author of "After modernism: the contemporary office environment", wrote that the design of Waterside was intended to "both facilitate a change in the way BA staff behave at work and to support a more customer-led culture".[10]

The 9,000 square metres (97,000 sq ft) gross internal area is mostly open plan offices; no personal space is assigned, although enclosed areas are available for meetings and study. (Although initially no personal places were assigned, in practice, departments have specific locations in the buildings with seat allocations, the overwhelming majority of people sit at the same desks everyday and those desks, and the surroundings, contain their personal ephemera just as in any conventional office. "Hot Desks" - those specifically not allocated for an individual - are infrequent and clearly marked.)[citation needed]

Around 2004 British Airways consolidated several offices into Waterside. Waterside's employee population increased to about 4,000. To deal with the parking situation, British Airways began limiting on-site parking to four days per week, and a Commuter Centre was established.[14]


An office of American Airlines is located at the Orient House (HAA3) within Waterside.[15]


  • Civic Trust Awards 2000, Winner
  • National Lighting Design Awards of Excellence 2000, Winner
  • RIBA Best of British Awards 1999, Winner
  • British Council for Offices 1999, Winner
  • British Construction Industry Award 1998, Winner

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About British Airways." British Airways. Retrieved 27 February 2010. "British Airways Plc, registered office: Waterside PO Box 365 Harmondsworth UB7 0GB"
  2. ^ "Contact." International Airlines Group. Retrieved on October 2, 2016. Postal address: International Airlines Group Waterside (HAA2), PO Box 365 Harmondsworth, UB7 0GB"
  3. ^ "Niels Torp in the UK - New Headquarters for British Airways." Gabion Hugh Pierman. 1 Archived 14 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 18 May 2009.
  4. ^ "Community - Biodiversity at Harmondsworth Moor." British Airways. Retrieved 18 May 2009.
  5. ^ "Benefits and features." British Airways. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  6. ^ "Willie Walsh: BA won't exist in 10 years if we don't transform." The Telegraph. 26 March 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2011
  7. ^ Gwyn Topham, BA boss shocked to find out that third Heathrow runway will raze his HQ, The Guardian, 22 November 2016
  8. ^ Sherwood, Philip (1990). The History of Heathrow. Uxbridge: London Borough of Hillingdon. pp. 64–65. ISBN 0-907869-27-0.
  9. ^ a b Niesewand, Nottie. "Design: Airline takes flight to new-age headquarters." The Independent. 5 February 1998. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  10. ^ a b Myserson, Jeremy. "After modernism: the contemporary office environment" (Chapter 10). In: McKellar, Susie and Penny Sparke (editors). Interior Design and Identity. Manchester University Press, 2004. 200. Retrieved from Google Books on 12 February 2010. ISBN 0-7190-6729-4, ISBN 978-0-7190-6729-7.
  11. ^ "Our locations." British Airways. Retrieved on 18 September 2009.
  12. ^ Willcock, John. "People and Business: Toy story is just a fable." The Independent. 7 October 1998. Retrieved 27 February 2010.
  13. ^ "BA Waterside". Cundall. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  14. ^ "Changing Direction - Heathrow's Travel Plan 2004-07" (). BAA Limited. 12 (14/40). Retrieved 2 October 2010.
  15. ^ "Impressum" (Archive). American Airlines China. Retrieved on April 24, 2014. "American Airlines, Inc. Orient House (HAA3), Po Box 365, Waterside, Harmondsworth, UB7 0GB United Kingdom"

External links[edit]