Although Chelsea Barracks had aroused controversy with an earlier masterplan proposal, a new architectural scheme designed by British firm Squire & Partners gave us the opportunity to create a destination brand that would capture the site’s illustrious past and future legacy.
Located on the site of the Chelsea Barracks in London SW1 and promising spacious city residences with the facilities of a country estate, this critically acclaimed project remains the UK’s most expensive development.
Since the start, funding from Qatari Diar exacerbated the negative press around foreign buyers of UK sites. So, after winning a pitch off the back of our work with Emaar Group, we got involved early in the planning and placemaking process, conceptualising ‘London reborn’ – a strategy that would mitigate any bad press by becoming a pivotal philosophy at the heart of this destination brand.
Guided by ‘London reborn’ – the best of London, made in London – a unique and authentic brand experience unfolded. Rooted in history but with a modern edge to appeal to buyers, the architecture and brand creative delicately balanced the traditional and the contemporary: the past and the future.
A crucial first step was establishing the name. Although Chelsea Barracks had attracted a lot of unwanted attention with its earlier masterplan, our insights showed that the positive heritage associations of the original name would far outweigh the negatives in the long run. That historical and cultural connection helped create an undeniable sense of place, which led us to create a respectful solution that felt quintessentially British.
Strengthening this idea of the project being London to the core, the developer only partnered with London-based suppliers. And by nurturing strong links with the local community through trade apprenticeships and resident programmes, including workshops on street naming, the three-year journey became an inclusive experience that celebrates culture, world-class craftsmanship and the site’s rich military history.