Al Jazeera Media Network (AJMN) has unveiled its new UK headquarters and broadcast studio in the iconic Shard skyscraper in London. The scheme, designed by Vienna-based architects, Veech x Veech, has created a pre-eminent broadcast production facility, with a multi-purpose newsroom and revolutionary studio, which breaks the mould of the ‘black box’ studio and re-imagines how broadcast facilities are designed. The architects describe it as ‘one of the world’s most advanced production studios’.
As broadcast design specialists, Veech x Veech faced the complex task of configuring a fully functioning TV studio within the confines of a predetermined floorplate. Creating such media hubs is highly specialised and requires precision design, using the camera as an additional tool as part of the process – the perspective of the studio appears differently on screen as opposed to the real-life experience.
Digital 3D modeling and 1:1 mockups were used extensively to test and accentuate the perspective composition of the news desk and set design to create a dynamic on-air look, framing the panoramic London skyline. Applying their comprehensive experience in this specific area of design, Veech x Veech created a single space that can interact simultaneously with the lighting, the views out over London, and the digital presentation screens.
Veech x Veech were able to turn the biggest design challenge on this project into an asset. Most studios require a minimum ceiling height of 4.5m but at the Shard they were limited to just 2.8m. The problematic low ceilings were transformed into a feature of the on-air appearance, working within and around a complex network of structural beams to create a totally different kind of space that will define the studio’s on-air identity.
In a world first for 24/7-news programming, fully automated low-level lighting has been integrated into the ceiling and sits amongst acoustic panels to create dramatic curved lines that mirror the shape of the news desk below.
By adopting some of the most sophisticated techniques in lighting design and engineering, these fixed units are capable of handling any camera angle or illumination level. Specialist filters have been incorporated into the glass façade and cameras to manage the light exposure from the outside world.
General Contractor: MCI Studio Hamburg
Lighting Technology: MO2