The BBC now has a new production studio in the heart of Bristol, the largest outside of London.
Words by Emily Martin
Project size: 5,575 sq m
Date completed: May 2022
Name of client: BBC Studios
Interior design: HOK and Studio B www.hok.com
James Tobias www.james-tobias.com
Existing furniture was re-used along with sourced ‘preloved’ items
HOK’S London Studio has delivered a new production base for BBC Studios – its largest outside London. Designed with Studio B, BBC staff from the Natural History Unit (NHU) and Factual Entertainment Bristol, which produces Top Gear, Antiques Roadshow, Gardeners’ World, Countryfile and DIY SOS, now work in the 5,575 sq m space across three floors of its new Bridgewater House, in Finzels Reach in the centre of Bristol.
BBC Studios occupies the first three floors of the building, where it has its own entrance and main reception on the ground floor. With its open plan and flexible furniture, the ground floor provides the ideal space for events and functions. An auditorium accommodates presentations and masterclasses, with bi-fold doors extending the event space outside to a landscaped garden area.
By placing a premium on inclusivity and flexibility, the new BBC studio is designed to inspire and motivate staff. Image Credit: HOK
The design scheme provides flexible, easily accessible workspaces that enable all staff to thrive and feel comfortable. The first and second storeys house the non-hierarchical office space, with team neighbourhoods wrapping around the perimeter. A broken-plan layout deconstructs the open-plan zone, using shelving, plants and dividers to form collaboration space and focus areas. The open shelving dividers have adjustable whiteboards that help create customisable team zones while providing acoustic privacy.
Comments Timothy Hatton, senior interior design professional, HOK: ‘We designed the new space to showcase BBC Studio’s content pioneers, inventors and reinventors while providing an inclusive, inspiring workplace that motivates its people to do their best work and helps them feel valued.’
The overall design structure was developed to allow BBC staff to produce their best work through collaboration and socialising spaces, but also through privacy and quiet areas where teams could focus and work together. Image Credit: Studio B
A central breakout space overlooking the ground-floor event area provides a social hub. Breakout/tea points in the centre of the office floors bring BBC’s Studios people together. A variety of furniture settings ensure that the space is activated for both work and socialising throughout the day.
The design supports BBC Studios commitment to sustainability and the Natural History Unit’s reputation as the world’s leading producer of content about the natural world. It was imperative to provide a highly sustainable design to support people who use storytelling to give the natural world a voice. The space has been awarded a SKA Gold certification.
An example of the more cloistered booths where staff can socialise and work. Image Credit: HOK
The workplace accommodates different user requirements, including hypersensitive and hyposensitive needs, with the design scheme including a variety of different settings enabling individuals to work in environments that best suit their tasks and with their preferred surroundings.
The auditoriums and presentation rooms are customisable but also designed to be comfortable, as demonstrated by these tub chairs. Image Credit: HOK
The material choices reinforce BBC Studio’s leadership in programming about the natural world. All timber used in the project was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The design team sourced reclaimed wood in feature areas. Walls made of cork, a natural and rapidly renewable material that reduces noise, improves acoustics in meeting spaces.
By working to ensure plenty of light, the designers have created airy and easy environments, conducive to creative work. Image Credit: HOK
Most furniture was reused. The design scheme also features quality preloved furniture where available. Using clay-based paints, instead of typical emulsion paints, reduced airborne odours and contaminants. The clay-based paints also lessen static charge build up, which minimises dust and allergens. Biophilic design elements create a healthy, uplifting environment and another connection to the natural world.
Osbourne & Little www.osbourneandlittle.com