Architects: Arup Associates
- photographs: Christian Richters
Text description provided by the architects. BSkyB Television Production and Transmission Facility: a ‘factory for creativity’ that is the most sustainable broadcasting studio yet designed. The Harlequin 1 building sets an international benchmark for sustainable architecture in a broadcasting environment.
Harlequin 1 will house recording, post-production and transmission facilities for Sky’s Broadcast and Sports News departments. In scale this large building is roughly equivalent to two New York City blocks – 100m long and 50m wide.
The building is divided horizontally into three zones: ‘make’, ‘shape’ and ‘share’. Lower floors contain the giant studios within which television content is made. Middle floors contain the data centres, production facilities and editing suites within which the content is ‘shaped’. And the upper floor contains the transmission platforms from which the television signal is ‘shared’.
The architecture of the building dramatically expresses its world leading sustainable technology. The giant natural ventilation chimneys of the recording studios are revealed on the exterior of Harlequin 1, which some have likened to a new power station architecture for the twenty-first century. Harlequin 1 captures every viable natural resource on the site; and radically minimises energy use throughout. There are 8 state of the art naturally ventilated studios, naturally ventilated offices for 1370 people, and free-cooled data rooms for more than 400 computer servers. Production facilities of this type are normally massively energy consuming. At Harlequin 1, the design team has worked with Sky and the local authority to set an international benchmark for sustainability.
Another important part of the brief was to shape a building that suited the youthful spirit of staff at BSkyB. Arup Associates’ interest in “whole-life sustainability” focuses on the human experience of a building, and has lead to the creation of a highly effective and flexible layout at Harlequin 1 that is very much in keeping with the working culture at BSkyB. Post-production and technical spaces are positioned centrally, with office space wrapping around the perimeter of the building to allow access to natural daylight and fresh air. A building management system optimises the cooling and ventilation of the building, windows can be individually controlled by occupants. The building atrium allows a visual communication between all levels of the buildings, providing employees with a sense of scale and location. A cantilevered zone above the entrance contains a series of people- centred spaces, including greenrooms, breakout zones, a cafe, and meetings rooms. The feel of Harlequin 1 is unlike that of a corporate office. There is an industrial rawness to much of the design in keeping with that of newspaper floors and the production suites of TV companies.