Media makeovers don’t come much brighter than Hugh Broughton Architects’ refurbishment of Channel 5’s atrium. It is a chameleon space, intimate and colourful at night but cool, white and spacious during the day
The atrium in Channel 5’s offices in Covent Garden’s Longacre has been enjoying a renewed lease of life since its refurbishment by Hugh Broughton Architects.
The space had previously been fitted out as a staff rest area, although due to the large expanses of glass in the ceiling and a lack of air conditioning, it suffered from greenhouse syndrome in the summer. There were no canteen facilities either, so the space remained largely unused. In April 1999 Channel 5 launched a mini competition between three practices to create a space that would be used more frequently and efficiently by its 250 staff.
The winning scheme addressed the core problems of sun protection and temperature regulation, divided the space loosely into three different activity areas and added a canteen. The main body of the space remains a staff cafe and meeting area with computer terminals at each table, an informal meeting area to one end, and a presentation area at the other.
Four draped fabric canopies can be raised or lowered via a pulley system to vary the appearance and atmosphere of the space. During the day, the canopies are hoisted high into the ceiling, diffusing the sunlight through the glass roof. Uplit with cool tone white lights, the canopies create a bright, white space with a high ceiling.
During the evenings the canopies can be lowered, individually, to make a ceiling of varying heights or one intimate even-height canopy. They can be downlit with coloured lights that can remain static or set on a kinetic sequence. Philip Rose of lighting designer Speirs and Major explains: ‘The client has total freedom. They can change the coloured gels to suit and can project onto the canopies for special events’.
The walls were whitewashed, and a white rubber floor laid, the colour, warmth and animation coming from the lighting effects and fabric canopies.Motorised blinds enable the space to be completely blacked out during presentations.
‘Most of the budget went on those things you can’t see, ’ explains Broughton. This includes computer terminals and television equipment - hidden from view by specially designed cabinets.A floating partition separates the meeting and canteen areas and is used as a projection screen. The furniture and the bar were also designed by the practice.
The project had a quick turn around. It started in April ‘99 and was completed that July, with just six weeks on site. It could almost have been a TVmakeover!
TENDER DATE May 1999
START ON SITE DATE June 1999
CONTRACT DURATION 7 weeks
GROSS EXTERNAL FLOOR AREA 145m2
FORM OF CONTRACT IFC 98
TOTAL COST £248,132
CLIENT Channel 5 Broadcasting
ARCHITECT Hugh Broughton Architects
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Price and Myers
SERVICES ENGINEER Southern Consultants Planning Supervisors Chartwell Consultants
QUANTITY SURVEYOR Boyden and Company
LIGHTING DESIGNER Speirs and Major
CONTRACTORS Beck Interiors
SUBCONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS rubber floor tiles Dalsouple; vinyl floor in kitchen Altro floors; cafe furniture, Internet stand and cafe bar John Weaver at Scott workshops; other furniture Hitch Mylius at Dovetail; tensile fabric canopies Architen; blinds The Louvre Blind Company; ironmongery Allgood; kitchen roller shutter Birmingham Garage and Industrial Doors; kitchen installation and equipment Everson Hewitt