Total design

The redevelopment of Television Centre by developer Stanhope is breathing new life into the former broadcasting headquarters


The redevelopment of Television Centre by developer Stanhope is breathing new life into the former broadcasting headquarters. The vision transforms the previously private site into a vibrant destination, significantly contributing to the regeneration of this area of West London.

The 1.7 million square foot mixed-use development provides offices, homes, a hotel, retail, restaurants, TV studios and leisure facilities, set within a beautifully designed public realm. Phase One is now open and includes the sensitive restoration and conversion of the famous Grade II listed ‘donut’ building, which preserves valuable heritage features and two new buildings. Despite the grand scale of this complex project, every tiny detail has been carefully considered and resolved in collaboration with the project team. This has resulted in a truly integrated approach. The architecture exposes and celebrates the engineering. The project sensitively responds to its historical context whilst modernising the site, bringing delight to the people who will now experience the re-imagined Television Centre. Arup’s contribution spans a wide range of engineering disciplines. Involvement began during the initial site feasibility study and continued through detailed design of each building in Phase One and subsequent elivery. Phase Two now brings further exciting opportunities to unlock the remaining site and realise the vision of the masterplan. Television Centre is a truly unique project and below we share a selection of the challenges and successes involved in transforming this iconic British landmark.

Arup has provided the following engineering services: Structural, Geotechnical, Infrastructure, Transportation and Logistics, Building Services, Sustainability, Wellness and Indoor Air Quality. Arup worked closely with the following collaborators:

  • AHMM – Architects
  • Deloitte – Cost Consultants
  • Pritchard Themis – Lighting
  • Gillespies – Landscaping
  • QCIC – Security
  • SMC – IT/Audio-visual

“Working on Television Centre has been a wonderful opportunity to bring together a large number of Arup skills and disciplines in support of the redevelopment of a cherished site, providing new life into the former broadcasting centre,” commented Matt Collinson, Associate Director, Arup.

The challenge of working with heritage structures
Arup’s specialist engineering expertise played a crucial role in retaining and reinventing the Grade II listed heritage structures, whilst re-vitalising the existing buildings. Protecting the Piper Mural A priceless mosaic artwork by John Piper is located in the main entrance hall comprising thousands of tiny pieces of glass tesserae grouted directly to the brick infill structure. The demolition cut line was less than 2m from the asset. Researching the materials and utilising finite element modelling techniques enabled the team to predict the likely movements induced by the proposed demolition and construction sequence. This informed a rigorous vibration and movement monitoring regime as well as dictating the programme of works in the areas immediately adjacent. The mosaic has been successfully protected in-situ and now features prominently, as originally intended by the artist, in the main reception area.

“Part of the challenge, yet also the satisfaction of working with existing buildings, is the requirement to delve into a building’s history to understand the design intent, the constraints and what is possible. The BBC archive was a treasure trove of drawings, photos, books, articles and even film footage of the construction, all of which enhanced our understanding of the design and allowed the team to push the limits in terms of optimisation,” noted Helene Gosden, Senior Engineer, Arup.

Helios fountain and obelisk
At the centre of the most recognisable building for British broadcasting lay the Helios fountain and obelisk. This striking feature couldn’t easily be preserved in the new scheme due to its condition and the need to overhaul and upgrade the fountain. The reclining figures of Sound and Vision and statue of Helios were carefully removed and placed into storage, whilst the slender spire and concrete dish at the base were sympathetically replicated. The new design meets modern code requirements without compromising the original dimensions of the spire and dish.

Retaining the building’s original charm
The design seeks to maintain the charm of the retained buildings, whilst providing new uses. The original ribbed concrete floor slabs are visible within the apartment ceilings in the retained building. This enables people to have a connection to the original building, and a sense of the heritage of their new home. The ‘donut’ building was originally constructed shortly after World War II when materials were in short supply, resulting in a very lean design. Using archive information and advanced survey techniques, this structure has been analysed to ensure compliance with modern building codes and careful interventions have been made where necessary to strengthen the frame and preserve the character of this valued building at the heart of Television Centre.

“By considering our design of this complex site holistically and collaboratively, we have engineered a modern development that makes economic and sustainable use of resources, whilst celebrating Television Centre’s original heart and soul. We aim to bring joy to all those who experience living, working and visiting Television Centre for years to come,” added Angela Crowther, Associate, Arup.

Melding environmental considerations and occupant wellbeing
The cooling system used for the new-build office building, 2TVC, represents a move away from fan coil units, the conventional approach in the speculative office market. Fresh air is delivered at low level via a plenum in the raised floor. This creates space at a higher level, resulting in an increased floor to ceiling heights and a clean aesthetic within the space. Pipework circulates chilled water above a plasterboard raft. This results in a calm environment that replicates a cooling environment, similar to the effect of walking into a heavy stone cathedral on a hot day. The system offers an energy efficient means of providing comfort to people.

Openable windows are provided to offer the tenants of 2TVC the opportunity to control their environment and provide a sense of connection to the outside environment. Arup developed a bespoke materials strategy for Indoor Air Quality, (IAQ). The aspiration was to improve the IAQ for occupants, as part of the two residential development plots on the Television Centre site. This strategy enabled the lowest emitting materials to be identified. The process required balancing the best in class classifications (by compliance with legislation, or ecolabel accreditation) with the practicality of sourcing within the UK. Products specified by the architect were assessed for compliance with these materials strategies and alternative products were identified where necessary. Low emission alternatives were sourced without any cost increase or impact on quality Arup also drafted specification clauses and tender documentation to enable the requirements to be adopted by Mace and sub-contractors. As a result, the team was able to make extensive reductions in VOC content of the finishes, thereby improving IAQ.

“The use of low emission materials contributes to the health and wellbeing of the apartment occupants by reducing VOC levels, and reduces the risk of headaches, nausea, irritation to eyes and skin, stress and depression, or worse in sensitive individuals,” highlighted Clare Perkins, Senior Scientist, Arup.

Large scale integrated engineering techniques
Further integration beyond the building footprints between site-wide infrastructure and buildings underpins the sustainability credentials of the project: the site includes a district heating network that provides low temperature hot water across the site.

A vast volume of rainwater attenuation is also sited just below the landscaping in the main entrance, which not only ensures that the project meets planning requirements for discharge rates to the existing drainage network but is also a valuable source of water for irrigation purposes.

Arup applied a wealth of multi-disciplinary engineering expertise, from structural and façade engineering to building services and specialist advice, to seamlessly deliver a holistic ‘total design’ approach. It collaborated with leading architects AHMM, construction managers Mace and an array of trade contractors to deliver on the masterplan by showcasing integrated engineering on a herculean scale. As the first phase of the project concludes, the next chapter of the Television Centre story is unfolding. The second phase is now underway with one commercial and four residential buildings to be developed.

Arup, is the creative force at the heart of many of the world’s most prominent projects in the built environment and across industry. With over 80 offices in 35 countries Arup has more than 13,000 planners, designers, engineers and consultants delivering innovative projects across the world with creativity and passion.
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