Building Canada into Canada House
Over the decades Canada House has seen many adaptations to its architecture and interiors. In the newly renovated Canada House, every effort has been made to ensure that the building showcases Canada’s natural materials and craftsmanship, and tells a proud story of its provenance.
The original 1820s marble floor on the ground floor of the building has been restored; Canadian marble was carefully selected to match. Canadian granite from the Canadian Shield was used in the Cockspur Street reception lobby.
The design team worked with individual Canadian lighting suppliers, some in remote locations, unaccustomed to foreign exports; all facing schedule pressure. Many light fixtures were made to order and adapted to UK standards (Canada takes 120V light fittings, but the UK takes 220V). Aesthetically, an effort was made not only to meet design demands, but also to ensure that materials, furniture and lighting would be sufficiently robust to withstand the functional demands of a busy office and well-used meeting and public spaces.
The RCMP hat in the Saskatchewan Room, the Winnie-the-Pooh book in the Manitoba Room, and signed photographs of Canadian artists throughout Canada House are all intended to highlight the fabric and feel of the country.
The use of pine beetle wood in the Pacific Room showcases how beetle-infested and damaged pine can be beautiful in its own right. It’s a great conversation starter.
Keeping some of High Commissioner Larkin’s collection of antiques reminds us of a bygone era when Canadians turned to other countries for quality artefacts and furnishings.
Meanwhile, the Canadian canoes found throughout the building remind us of something special about travelling in the country’s parks and wilderness and of the canoe’s historic importance to the economic development of Canada.
And there’s no question the credenza in the Prince Edward Island room closely resembles a large lobster trap.
There are many small but important details help Canada House remind Canadians of home and, hopefully, entice others to get to know Canada a little better.