Compiled by Team IAnD
Photography: Hufton + Crow; courtesy the architects
Veech x Veech designs one of the world’s most advanced production studios for Al Jazeera in the iconic Shard skyscraper in London...
Mascha Veech-Kosmatschof and Stuart Veech of Vienna-based multidisciplinary architecture firm Veech x Veech - leaders in creating three-dimensional branded environments - have created a pre-eminent broadcast production facility, with a multi-purpose newsroom and revolutionary studio for Al Jazeera Media Network’s (AJMN) new UK headquarters. The design breaks the mould of the ‘black box’ studio and re-imagines how broadcast facilities are designed.
Working on a predetermined floor plate, the design centres on a single space that can interact simultaneously with the lighting, the view out to the capital and the digital presentation screens. Bearing in mind the highly specialised and precision-driven requisites of the facility, and using the camera as an additional tool as part of the process, the perspective of the studio is designed to appear differently on screen as opposed to the real thing.
“We used Digital 3D modelling and 1:1 mock-ups 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,” informs Stuart. “The major challenge” he adds, “Was to the invert the restrictive constraints of a high rise building into a design asset by restructuring the perspective composition to enhance a cinematic wide-angle depth of space resulting in the unique channel spatial brand identity”.
The architects have successfully turned the biggest design challenge on the 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 defines 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, further demonstrating the high level of design and performance of the studio that separates it from the normal ‘black box’ approach.
Says Patrick Bedeau, Global Art Director, Al Jazeera, “This exciting project challenges the way news is made and requires the design team to adopt a radical approach, integrating the broadcast studio into the office space within an open-plan setting.”
To date, the project has been awarded an International Design Award, and is nominated for a British Council of Offices award.