LocationFitzrovia, London W1A 1AA, UK
PhotographsHOK, Courtesy of MacCormac Jamieson Prichard + Sheppard Robson
ConstructionBovis Lend Lease
ManagementLand Securities Development
Consulting engineersRamboll UK
From the architect. BBC New Broadcasting House is the new state-of-the-art, multimedia broadcasting centre in the heart of London. This world-class facility is the iconic new home for the BBC’s network and global services in Television, Radio, News and Online.
Delivering the vision of ‘One BBC’, New Broadcasting House heralds a simpler, more integrated digital service for audiences, and a simpler, more creative environment for staff. For the first time journalists from BBC News, Global News, Audio & Music and World Service have been brought together in a 484,375 sq.ft. live multimedia environment. New Broadcasting House is home to nearly 6,000 staff, three 24 hour news channels, nine radio networks and 26 foreign language services, reaching a worldwide audience of over 241 million people.
The bringing together of BBC people and services into one integrated state-of-theart media centre created unprecedented opportunities to drive collaboration, knowledge sharing and creativity between BBC programmes and departments. The BBC was looking for an interior design partner with cutting-edge innovative solutions to create an inspiring, exciting and vibrant work environment to capitalise on this opportunity. From the outset, the BBC was clear that the design needed to offer value formoney by making the best use of space; incorporate leading digital technology to raise quality and enable more efficient ways of working; and be highly adaptable to ensure New Broadcasting House keeps pace with future technological developments. It was also important for the BBC, that New Broadcasting House provide greater access to the public, allowing people to interact with their BBC.
With a desire for the interior of New Broadcasting House to be constantly on air, the challenge for HOK was to ensure that the interior designs reflect the brand and ethos of the BBC throughout, whilst still recognising the distinct identities of different BBC departments. It was critical that all of the backdrops within the building be suitable for broadcast, and therefore HOK had to rely entirely on the BBC brand palette of red and oranges.
Throughout the building HOK worked with its team of graphic designers to develop bespoke, innovative graphics to celebrate the distinct identity of each of the departments. On each floor graphics have been used to name the glass meeting rooms, celebrating BBC talent past and present, whilst in World Service the graphics pay homage to ex-colleagues lost in conflict.
Engagement with key BBC people was an integral part of the early design process. HOK worked closely with members of staff from across the BBC to ensure the development of a range of innovative solutions to meet a constantly evolving brief. The result is a pragmatic, flexible and creative interior.
At the heart of New Broadcasting House is the BBC newsroom, a column-free space, surrounded by technical areas and day-lit by the eight-storey high atria above. The newsroom is one of the largest live newsrooms in the world, therefore it was critical that the design of the news floor stand up to the pressure and demands of a 24 hour news cycle. HOK worked with news editors to test different newsroom designs using furniture mock ups, ensuring maximum functionality. The resulting ‘hub and spoke’ design helps to effectively channel news stories between teams and editing suites and broadcast studios located around the edge of the news floor. V-Pods – bespoke telepresence modules – have also been adapted to provide additional flexible studio space.
During its research, HOK determined that private space was also paramount within the newsroom, especially as news editors research and developstories. HOK designed eight different types of private meeting rooms categorized as either collaborative or discreet working spaces, including rooms, pods and even armchairs that can be turned into private work spaces.
Elsewhere in the building HOK has designed two live broadcast areas on the second and fifth floors providing space for broadcasting online video, TV and radio programmes, and a total of 50 state-of-the-art radio and editing studios. Flexibility and adaptability of recording space was paramount, and HOK worked with a number of technical design specialists to develop an innovative design for lightweight glass studio boxes. Located within the open plan office space, the 23 glass studios are situated within the immediate vicinity of the World Service and BBC News Broadcast, allowing the teams to broadcast live radio output to a global audience at short notice. Each studio has a light box surrounding the top which is used as an external indicator –white is the default colour, amber indicates rehearsals, and red is for on air. The use of glass for a radio studio is unusual but allows studios to be controlled from outside by a controller, either individually or in twos and threes.
BBC New Broadcasting House is designed to be occupied at a ratio of 1:1.5. Whilst workspaces have been allocated in specialist departments, elsewhere HOK has provided workstation clusters with additional data and power outlets to ensure workstations can adapt to cope with increasing team sizes in the event of a major breaking news story. A mixture of 57 bookable and un-bookable meeting rooms, and 72 touchdown working positions, provide additional formal workspace.
Throughout the building HOK has designed a variety of informal collaboration spaces. Two breakout spaces on each floor have been located around the cyclorama overlooking All Saint’s Church, with clusters of loose furniture positioned to take full advantage of this prime London vista. Meanwhile quiet one to one spaces are grouped around the perimeter of the two large atria, with furniture designed to increase privacy. A series of back to back booths, or railway carriages, situated facing the atria, provide additional group working space on each floor. The back wall of each booth has been covered with photographers of global cities where the BBC is based, including Kabul, Jakarta, Istanbul and Delhi. A range of new public spaces have been created at the heart of the new complex, which open up New Broadcasting House and create a dialogue between audiences and visitors, and BBC staff.A new public walkway running through the centre of the site, which provides a foyer for the Radio Theatre, opens onto the Media Café where the public and BBC staff can mix. The Media Café space has been designed so it can be used in numerous different ways: as a holding space for BBC audiences, or an exhibition and event space. Along the length of the café is a glass-fronted window which provides a unique view into the BBC Newsroom below, making the Media Café a key feature of BBC tours.
Digital technology has been used to showcase BBC output throughout the public areas. Innovative ticker tape newsfeeds in the reception area display breaking news, whilst nine additional screens showcase output from across the BBC. In the Media Café media boxes suspended from the ceiling broadcast live output. Sustainability was of utmost importance within the BBC brief so a focus on strong environmental credentials and durability for internal fittings and furniture was important. The decision to choose mainly British suppliers added further value by supporting UK businesses and championing emerging British talent. The building aims to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.