Al Jazeera Media Network (AJMN) has unveiled its new UK headquarters and broadcast studio in Europe’s tallest building, 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.
Leaders in creating three-dimensional branded environments, Veech x Veech has 20 years’ experience delivering interiors, broadcast studios and buildings that not only reflect their client’s identity as a 3D experience but accommodate the complex production needs required, including lighting, acoustics and logistics. Applying their comprehensive experience in this specific area of design, for the new Al Jazeera UK headquarters and studio Veech x Veech created a single space that can interact simultaneously with the lighting, the view out to the capital and the digital presentation screens.
MCI Studio Hamburg acted as general contractor and was responsible for technical planning as well as set construction. MO2 created the cutting-edge lighting technology.
“The major challenge 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”
points out Stuart A. Veech, Creative Director.
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.
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.
Veech x Veech were also appointed to create the adjacent newsroom to the studio so there would be a direct stylistic link between the two spaces. Custom made curved desks recall the newsdesk and contribute to the strong brand identity as the newsroom is also used as a backdrop to the filming in the studio.
The visionary approach of Al Jazeera Media Network and Veech x Veech has resulted in the world’s most advanced broadcast facility bridging the gap between programme making and the design of the physical space.
“This exciting project challenges the way news is made and required the design team to adopt a radical approach, integrating the broadcast studio into the office space within an open-plan setting”
comments Al Jazeera Global Art Director, Patrick Bedeau.
Creating content across the global Al Jazeera network, this new facility reinforces AJMN’s position as a leading news organisation in the UK and European marketplace.
To date, the project has been awarded an International Design Award and been nominated for a British Council of Offices award.