Fanum House
Fanum House is the headquarters of The Automobile Association in Basingstoke in the English county of Hampshire. It is one of several AA buildings named "Fanum House" around the country. The original Headquarters in Leicester Square was also called Fanum House, 'Fanum' being the callsign of the AA. The AA took advantage of 1960s government incentives to move from their London HQ to the rapidly-expanding town of Basingstoke. The building was completed in 1970 and AA employees moved in at that point, and it was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth in 1973. It is an eighteen storey building (seventeen of offices plus a viewing gallery on top), the tallest on the commercial flight path between Heathrow and New York. It is clearly visible from the M3 motorway from some distance away. The name 'Fanum' is a Latin word for temple and was chosen to reflect the AA's status as the UK's premier motor breakdown company. The Skyline Plaza development in the town centre, however, may succeed it as the tallest such building, as it will see the old Alencon House being extended to 19 floors. The 17th floor was originally executive offices with its own bar, but is now the same layout as the other floors in the tower block. There was also a bar in the 2nd floor canteen when the building first opened, though this closed some years ago. There is no floor 1, the ground floor is known as 'Upper Ground' and the 'Lower Ground' basement floor is about half the size of the floors in the tower block. The first floor up in the lift or stairs is called Floor 2. The Upper Ground floor is much larger than the floors in the tower block, with a huge open-plan flat-roof office area, a coffee bar, shop, learning centre and a theatre which is used for company presentations. The building also has a large undercover car park, notorious with employees for its very narrow parking spaces. There is an undercover connecting walkway from the car park to the Upper Ground floor. Floor 10 is not offices, rather a power supply and building control floor. AA employees generally do not have access to this floor. It is clearly visible from outside after dark as there is one floor which is clearly in darkness. The AA's HQ moved to the purpose-built Norfolk House on the edge of the Basingstoke ring road at the A340 junction in the mid-1990s, with the intention of closing Fanum House altogether. However the new offices were not large enough for all the Basingstoke-based employees, and both buildings operated for a period. It was ultimately Norfolk House that closed in 2002, following the takeover of the AA by Centrica in 1999, when the HQ functions moved to Farnborough. In 2005, the headquarters returned to Fanum House.