BBC Music Box, London

This project was designed to house the BBC’s three orchestras and a large amount of additional office space on the new White City Campus. The proposal aimed to engage the essence of the BBC as a public Broadcasting Corporation by visually connecting the space of the studio with the space of the city, through a glass membrane. As the studios are mainly for rehearsals, the building’s transparent frontage allows the public to catch glimpses of performances from the street, as if invited to backstage, and conversely allows the musicians to perform within the space of the city. In this scenario, when the blinds incorporated within the façade system are lifted and the building is transformed into a stage, the BBC presents itself in public as an open and transparent organisation.

This fully ‘transparent’ mode is one of many ways in which the studio and the city would relate. The studios and supporting spaces of the building are enveloped with a screening surface which is folded in loops to define spaces of varying scale. Analogous to music, which is a sequence of events in time, its physical notation implies a primarily linear structure. The enclosing surface which is folded to determine the main spaces of the building also produces ‘screens’ designed to broadcast images or graphics which further ‘communicate’ the BBC to its context. Both the screens, which act as a device for media transmission, and the windows, which expose the activities in the building to the passers-by, provide the BBC with opportunities to engage with the public through its Music Centre.

Architect - Foreign Office Architects

Structure - AKT

Acoustic - Sandy Brown Associates

Lightning - Speirs and Major Associates

QS & Project Management - Davis Langdon

Theatre - Ducks Sceno, Vaulx-en-Velin

Service - Cameron Taylor Brady

Modelmaking - FOA & Andrew Ingram

Location

London, United Kingdom

Client

BBC & Land Securities Trillium

Date

2003

Total area

6,500m²

Awards

Competition First Prize