The BBC is set to go Dutch for its new £30 million Scottish headquarters and shortlist Delft-based practice Mecanoo from a list of 73 submissions.
The move will give the well-respected practice a second chance at entering the UK market, after its design for a new entrance and visitor centre for the Tower of London was rejected in favour of a scheme by Stanton Williams last year.
If the practice wins the competition it will establish an office in the UK and will then start to challenge the top UK architects for major commissions here. 'We want to work in the UK, ' said senior architect Markus Freigang, 'but you need to set up there to co-ordinate projects.The BBC job would be the one to say let's go for it and set up a small office.'
Mecanoo has been told by the BBC it will be on a shortlist of about six practices, but BBC property spokesman Ian Small said that the remainder of the shortlist will remain under wraps until the end of the month.The 18,500m 2studio and broadcasting centre will be part of the redevelopment of Pacific Quay on the south bank of the Clyde (AJ 28.9.00).
Mecanoo's reputation has been built on a series of acclaimed buildings in the Netherlands, such as the Centrale Biblioteek at the Technical University in Delft and the economics and management faculty in Utrecht. The practice's work was also part of recent attempts by the Netherlands Embassy in London to promote Dutch architecture in the UK.
But Freigang acknowledged that the UK public has a different attitude towards modern architecture than the Dutch. 'In Germany, and to some extent in the UK, they are more interested in traditional design. In a small country like the Netherlands, people are always in contact with new architecture.It is part of being so close to their surroundings.'