Arup Associates completes the world's greenest broadcast studio for BSkyB
BSkyB’s brief for a world leading, genuinely sustainable HQ challenged Arup Associates to capture every viable natural resource on the site; and to radically minimise energy use throughout.
Harlequin 1 will house recording, post-production and transmission facilities for Sky’s Broadcast and Sports News departments, including 8 state-of-the-art naturally ventilated studios, naturally ventilated offices for 1,370 people and free-cooled data rooms for more than 400 computer servers.
In scale this large building is roughly equivalent to two New York City blocks – 100m long and 50m wide. The building is divided horizontally into three zones: ‘make’, ‘shape’ and ‘share’. Lower floors contain the giant studios where television content is made. Middle floors contain the data centres, production facilities and editing suites within which the content is ‘shaped’, while the upper floor contains the transmission platforms from which the television signal is ‘shared’.
The architecture of the building dramatically expresses its world-leading sustainable technology. The giant natural ventilation chimneys of the recording studios are revealed on the exterior of Harlequin 1, which has been likened to a new power station architecture for the twenty-first century; a ‘factory for creativity’. Arup Associates’ interest in 'whole-life sustainability' focuses on the human experience of a building. This philosophy has fed directly to creating a highly effective and flexible layout at Harlequin 1 that is very much in keeping with the working culture at BSkyB.
Post-production and technical spaces are positioned centrally, with office space wrapping around the perimeter of the building to allow access to natural daylight and fresh air, and vistas outdoors and across floors. Windows can be individually controlled by occupants. The building atrium allows a visual communication between all levels of the buildings, while a cantilevered zone above the entrance contains a series of people-centred spaces, including greenrooms, breakout zones, a cafe, and meetings rooms.
Harlequin 1 has achieved a BREEAM 'Excellent' rating. It has exceeded the minimum requirements set out by Part L2A 2006 by 67%; and has joined a very elite group of 0.15% of buildings of this type achieving an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) 'A' rating. This has been achieved without contribution of on-site renewables such as CCHP and wind turbines (as on-site renewable systems have not yet been procured and full details of the actual energy reductions associated is unknown). Production facilities of this type are normally massively energy consuming. At Harlequin 1, the design team has worked with Sky and the local authority to set an international benchmark for sustainability in a broadcasting environment.