VCH Explore

Explore England's Past

Mountbatten House - The Hanging Gardens of Basingstoke

Mountbatten House, Basing View

Viewed from Churchill Way East, Mountbatten House in Basing View has been described as a large and elaborate chest of drawers, the drawers all open to different extents and each filled with overflowing shrubs, trees and trailing creepers.[1] The roofscape together with Belvedere House is a high quality, secret garden which adds intrigue and an element of surprise in the landscape.[2]

Having moved from London in 1973 to temporary offices in Basing View, paper manufacturers Wiggins Teape commissioned architects Arup Associates to design a new headquarters office in 1975. The nearby elevated site was designed so that most staff could look out on to open country with a sunny aspect to the south and east as well as providing pleasant recreation spaces. To obscure the dual carriageway in the valley and distant housing estate the offices were planned on five levels for up to 1,000 people, stepped up the slope with terrace gardens at each level.[3] The building, named Gateway House was opened by Lord Louis Mountbatten in May 1977.[4]

The flat roofs were covered with asphalt, successive layers of cement screed, granular mineral, glass fibre quilting and earth up to 2ft. (0.6m.) deep in places. The planting includes lawns, azaleas, buddleias and vines. Several gardens, including a courtyard garden sunk into the middle of the lowest office floor, contain pools or sprinklers for watering. The total cost at the time for the gardens alone was c. £80,000.

Wiggins Teape moved out of the building in 1983 after which the premises were renamed as Mountbatten House and occupied by IBM and subsequently by Thales Missile Electronics Ltd.[5]

The building won the RIBA Award for its design in 1979 and the Financial Times Architecture at Work award in 1983.[6] In 2015 it was given Grade II Listing by English Heritage as a fine example of a post-war office building.[7]

[1] Text based on T. Aldous and J.Winter, ‘Hanging gardens of Basingstoke’, Architects’ Jnl, (24 Aug 1977) unless otherwise stated.

[2] Basing View Sustainable Urban Business Park Masterplan Vision, Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council. 

[3] (3 June 2014).

[4]  Gateway: Wiggins Teape Group International Magazine, no 67 (June 1977).

[5] Basingstoke Gazette, (8 Apr 1991).

[6] (3 June 2014); Basingstoke Gazette, (1984).

[7] Basingstoke Observer, (28 Jan 2015).


Content derived during research for the new VCH Hampshire volume, Basingstoke and its surroundings.