At their White City site The BBC shortlisted three architectural practices to submit master planning proposals for a new administrative headquarters with digital ‘playout’ facilities. The Corporation occupies a number of sites in the immediate vicinity most notably the listed BBC Television Centre and Woodlands Studios. The brief required a total of 60,000m2 of accommodation and integrated with the existing 40,000m2 White City building. The masterplan was required to provide for staged construction allowing approximately 20,000m2 to be built in the first phase which was to include 1500m2 of digital playout studio space.
Our approach to the problem embraced masterplanning issues which went beyond the confines of the allocated site in question, addressing an area from Wormwood Scrubs to the North down to Shepherd’s Bush Green to the South. The proposal is a coherent urban design strategy which aims to point the way forward towards an urban regeneration for the whole area.
Building on previous work as design architects for the Whitecity commercial development to the south of the BBC, a number of key moves were established:
– Integration of underground, rail, and surface public transport links.
– Rationalisation of traffic flow and redirection of traffic away from Wood Lane, thus releasing it for pedestrian friendly public facilities.
– A linear green belt linking Shepherd’s Bush Green with Wormwood Scrubs.
– Creating urban development plots along the greenbelt line.
– Increasing the required density on the BBC White City site to ‘urban’ as opposed to business park densities.
– links between the new proposed development and the adjacent urban fabric, particularly the White City Estate to the west of the site.
The development strategy for the White City site proposes two generic building types to generate the appropriate urban density. The space requirements contained in the BBC brief are accommodated in twinned 22 metre wide building blocks which are linked at ground floor level to provide large footprint areas for digital playout space. The second generic block type of shallower depth accommodates functions additional to BBC immediate requirements and also establishes a scale change to the surrounding residential buildings.
The proposed architecture of the buildings develops a concept of layering using timber screens and balconies which provide buffer zones to the building face and additional functional space during temperate times of year.