BBC Television Centre – An Enduring Cultural Icon

First opened in June 1960, BBC Television Centre is a British cultural icon and a landmark piece of modern architecture.

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Built on the site of the 1908 Olympics and the Franco-British Exhibition, BBC Television Centre was designed to be a factory for television and a powerhouse of creative broadcasting. Covering 14 acres and twice the size of St Paul’s Cathedral, it was possible to see Television Centre under construction from Alexandra Palace, where the BBC began broadcasting television in 1936. The site was acquired by London developers Stanhope plc in 2012 in a deal worth £200m. Today, the whole area of White City it is rejuvenated into a working, living, thriving community.

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Winners of the 2018 AJ Retrofit Awards for a listed building £5m and over, Stirling prize-winning architectural practice Allford Hall Monaghan Morris have led the ambitious redesign. The iconic site has been transformed into a mixed-use development that includes 950 new apartments complete with modern amenities including a health club, swimming pool, luxury spa, 280,000 sq ft of premium office space, television studios, independent restaurants, an art house cinema and a 47-bedroom hotel and private members’ club by Soho House.

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The 14-acre scheme places strong emphasis on pedestrianised areas and landscaped open spaces to stitch the site back into the local area and complement the overall regeneration of the White City area. The listed buildings, including the famous Television Centre forecourt and façade, Studio 1 and the central Helios Plaza, are opened up to the public for the first time.

Retaining the design heritage has been central to this development, so the new Television Centre honours the original design by restoring many original and Grade II listed features, such as the mosaic mural by John Piper, the floating cantilevered staircase, and the original ceramic tiling in the Helios Courtyard.

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The residents’ main lobby has welcomed many familiar faces throughout Television Centre’s illustrious history, from heads of state to film stars and musical legends. This famous space has been restored to its former glory, including the original mosaic by British artist John Piper.

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Residents benefit from a 24-hour concierge service, dedicated lounge with outdoor seating, and a screening room that can be used for private events and special occasions.

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A carefully curated selection of cafés and restaurants open out onto the central terraces with alfresco summertime dining. Soho House sets the tone with a new restaurant on the ground floor, and a 47-bedroom hotel with views over the famous Television Centre terraces. The private members’ club for people in the creative industries specialises in creating a comfortable home-from-home. Complete with a rooftop swimming pool and bar, it’s the perfect place for members to enjoy Soho House’s exclusive lifestyle and trademark cocktails.

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The 950 new apartments at Television Centre are made up of collections in The Helios and The Crescent. The Helios apartments and penthouses circle the Helios statue at the centre of Television Centre. The reimagined Grade II listed courtyard apartments retain many original features, such as exposed concrete beams, aluminium framed windows, polished concrete flooring and distinctive, gently-curving walls. In the garden apartments, new inset balconies and generous windows have been added to enjoy the views of the private grounds.

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The Crescent is a new collection of apartments that wraps around The Helios, creating tranquil gardens in-between. The long curving row that makes up The Crescent is separated into five entrance lobbies, each with a central core of lifts providing access to individual floors and apartments. These apartments distinctly modern in design, with views from individual balconies overlooking Hammersmith Park or the new private gardens, and dual aspect apartments enjoying both. Ground floor apartments also have their own private gardens.

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BBC Television Centre is part of an ambitious regeneration of White City, totalling 145 acres. This includes a new academic hub and campus for Imperial College London, expansion of Westfield London, new homes and a new public park, and the redevelopment of the former BBC Media Village into a new office quarter – White City Place. White City aims to bring together science, innovation, academia and the creative sector, providing a dynamic place to live and work thus reinvigorating this historic West London neighbourhood.

Credit: Television Centre Images GG Archard

Additional Info:
Development Team: Stanhope, Mitsui Fudosan, Alberta Investment Management Corporation
Architecture: Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, dRMM, Duggan Morris, Maccreanor Lavington
Landscape Design: Gillespies

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About Rita Bancroft

A regular features writer on Design Insider, Rita has a passion for interiors. Having worked at a senior level for international brands for over 25 years, she now runs her own independent marketing consultancy.
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