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FIRST LOOK

First residents move into AHMM’s BBC Television Centre retrofit

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Allford Hall Monaghan Morris’s transformation of the iconic complex into 432 flats retains the forecourt familiar to generations of TV viewers

This week will see the first residents move into the former BBC Television Centre as Phase 1 nears completion, providing homes, offices, shops, and a new club area and hotel for Soho House. New residents will include a BBC journalist and a former studio worker who has purchased the flat where his former office once was.

The redevelopment is the result of a competition won by Stanhope working with AHMM in 2012, two years after many BBC services were transitioned to MediaCity in Salford leaving much of the old Television Centre empty.

With a vision to transform the iconic forecourt from a private place to a public one, it now houses cafes, restaurants and a terrace, as well as providing access to the three remaining BBC Studios, the new apartments, a hotel and a gym.

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11066 n1150

The Helios Statue by TB Huxley-Jones along with the adjacent sculptures of Vision and Sound have been restored, as has much original tiling and artwork, most notably the John Piper mosaic in the main lobby. The main ‘drum’ of the forecourt has been reclad in red, based on an original 1956 Frank Weemy watercolour.

The first phase has created 432 flats, both in the ring of the original building – the Helios – and in a new nine-storey outer ring, dubbed The Crescent. Between the two sits an internal courtyard space. The at times awkward shape of the site has led to a range of apartment layouts, and as well as being designed by AHMM, interiors have been designed by Coffey Architects, Piercy & Co, Haptic and Archer Humphryes Architects. 

The new office building, 2 Television Centre, replaces the original ‘stem’ of the plan’s famous ‘question mark’ shape, and features a dramatic bridged atrium connecting a series of workplaces and commercial units at its base. The remaining studios have been restored and updated, with finishes stripped back and dressing rooms remodelled.

Phase 2 of the residential development surrounding Television Centre is due to be completed by Duggan Morris, dRMM, Mikhail Riches and MaccreanorLavington.

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11066 n1146

Architect’s view

Since the opening in June 1960 of BBC Television Centre, White City has been a pivotal part of the BBC’s pioneering journey in public service broadcasting. The innovative masterplan and design for the building were at the cutting edge of a new media industry and therefore captured the optimism of the age.

A unique ‘question mark’ design was conceived by the BBC’s architect Graham Dawbarn, creating the world’s most sophisticated ‘factory for television’. Over the years the buildings have adapted to respond to the rapid growth in television with new buildings, extensions and refurbishments. However despite the many changes, the view from Wood Lane of the forecourt, Studio 1 with its famous dots, the circular building and glimpses into the Helios Courtyard, has remained remarkably untouched – becoming familiar to millions.

The celebrated forecourt is retained, but transformed from a private place into a public one. The ambition is to preserve and celebrate the listed buildings, create a new hub for creative industries, stitch the site back into the local area and provide around 1,000 new homes, all while reinforcing the original design intent.

Project data

Client Mitsuit Fudosan, Aimco, Stanhope and BBC Studioworks
Masterplan/Phase 1 architect Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
Engineer Arup
Planning consultant Gerald Eve
Cost consultant Deloitte
Landscape architect Gillespies
Construction management contractor MACE
Lighting Pritchard Themis
Interior styling - residential lobby AHMM in collaboration with Suzy Hoodless
Approved inspector / building control Bulter and Young
Wayfinding / signage Holmes Woods
Landscape consultants Waterscales, Charles Funke, The Fountain Workshop
Daylight consultant Gordon Ingram Associates
Acoustic consultant Clarke Saunders Acoustics
Sustainability consultant URS
Urban design Space Syntax, QUOD
Townscape Rover Tavernor
BIM consultant GRFN, Nitty Gritty

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