North London-based creative Agency Greenspace has been working with London’s iconic historical site since 2017 to reimagine it as new hospitality destination The OWO. The agency and venue have collaborated across brand strategy, name and identity designs used across all touchpoints, including signage, marketing materials, digital platforms and more.
Situated on Whitehall in central London, the Old War Office was constructed in 1906 and designed by English architect William Young. The building was John Profumo’s base when he was Secretary of State and inspired Ian Fleming to write the James Bond series after working for Britain’s Naval Intelligence Service. Furthermore, the Old War Office has featured in five Bond films and, more recently, Netflix’s popular drama series The Crown drama.
Due to open in 2022, The OWO will house the capital’s first Raffles hotel, ‘Raffles London at The OWO’ which will comprise of 125 rooms and suites; nine restaurants and bars; a spa and 85 private residences. The hotel interiors are being designed by New York-based designer Thierry Despont.
The core of Greenspace’s inspiration when it comes to the design is the building’s iconic heritage. “It seems obvious to us now, but there was a period at the start of the project when the words, ‘old’, ‘war’ and ‘office’ were not felt to convey the desired sense of luxury nor hospitality,” says Greenspace founder Adrian Caddy. “Nevertheless, the building could never comfortably fit a different name whilst remaining true to its roots.”
The Hinduja Group is at the helm of the project, which has worked with a team of experts, including Historic England and Museum of London Archaeology, and appointed EPR Architects to oversee the redevelopment.
The name originates from an archival discovery which found that typists would refer to the building as The OWO. Greenspace has created a bespoke typeface in collaboration with Colophon Foundry, appropriately named 1906. The font is based on the designs of numerous early 20th century period Grotesque typefaces by British type foundries such as Stevenson Blake of Sheffield.
“We felt it was appropriate that the logotype should be understated and rooted in the heritage of the building itself,” says Lee Deverill, Greenspace creative director. “We concluded that to make an old typeface work in today’s digital realm and to create an asset that would be of lasting value to The OWO; we should recommend the design of a bespoke typeface.”