Old War Office turns into luxury hotel with new brand identity

Located in London’s Whitehall, the building known as the Old War Office was used as the headquarter of the UK’s war department from its completion in 1906 to 2014. After the reformed Ministry of Defence had moved to the Main Building, the OWO was sold to Hinduja Group which announced that the building would be converted to a kind of a luxury hotel with residential apartments.


Aiming to develop the image of the new hotel, the owners hired design agency Greenspace that created a branding involving the OWO’s history as well as graphic motifs from the early 1900’s. Despite today’s views of war, the designers tried to turn The OWO into a new brand showcasing a fine style with restrained yet revealing features.

This can be seen in the building’s logo with its laconic black-and-white design. The perfectly round “O”’s and overlapping “W” create a short and original wordmark. As Greenspace’s founder Adrian Caddy says, when you pronounce “OWO” it sounds like “Noho” or “Soho”, and that makes it sound new again.

The typeface, used for The OWO logo and other visuals, is based on the typeset material which was used by British type foundries in the early 20th century. Called 1906, alluding to The OWO’s founding year, it is described as “quite utilitarian, quite reduce and quite restrained”.

Apart from the black-and-white and gray coloring, The OWO brand also includes some pink hues inspired by the alabaster balustrade of a staircase in the building. Such a color palette is perceived as the most appropriate, according to Caddy.