During the late 60s the Zurich Insurance company, like some others, decided that they would decentralise their headquarters and move to Portsmouth. GMW architects were commissioned to design the new office building on a rather constrained curving site, the boundary of which was determined by an old Admiralty Railway branch running along the edge of Victoria Park.

While Zurich hoped to occupy the Central Post Office site opposite the central station, this would not be available for some years and the new headquarters was designed to fit on the narrower portion of the site. A curving slab block with an external circulation core was the result. The building was designed with full height glazing in office areas and, to ensure internal comfort conditions without excessive refrigeration, it was clad in bronze mirror glass throughout.

The building was completed in 1973 and though Zurich occupied it, they never moved their headquarters from central London. Eventually, in the 21st century, Zurich moved out of the building and it has been converted into student residential accommodation, with the result that the original simplicity and drama of the building has been lost.

A contrasting second phase was designed to occupy the post office site, but was never built.


picture of a cream clad building
Zurich Insurance, proposed Phase 2