Located alongside Glasgow’s former docks, the BBC Scotland building sits on an exposed plot of land dominated by the river Clyde. Faced with this open landscape, the building needed to assert its own sense of place and satisfy the brief of the BBC for a contained yet publicly accessible building. Encompassing a broad remit including television, radio, internet, production facilities, digital studios, technical support and office space, the design aims to encourage creative interaction between its many occupants by connecting all the workspaces. This is achieved by means of an imposing central atrium configured as a tiered sequence of steps, platforms and terraces crafted from local red sandstone. Circulation and communication through the building and between office floors is facilitated by this promenade, which not only offers informal meeting areas but also encourages movement between spaces, giving visual representation to the public aspect of the building.
In terms of the formal design of the structure, the most immediate problem posed by the project brief lay in the compositional relationship between technical elements such as studios – which had to be opaque – and office space – which needed to be transparent to enjoy the surrounding views. The difficulty of adjoining the large television studios with relatively small office spaces was overcome and turned into an advantage: the void of the atrium was filled by arranging the studios in a gradual succession of increasing height, flanked by all the office spaces. This solution enhanced the importance of the public and social space, which became an integral part of the daily workings of the institution.
What makes this distinct from conventional offices is that it is more industrial and loft-like in feel, and gives equal importance to collective work areas, individual workstations and public spaces. The double-skin glass façade has a fixed outer layer and an opening inner layer. A natural ventilation system is embedded between the layers, while the transparency of the façade also maximises natural light and views over the river.
Photo credits: Christian Richters, Peter Cook, Micheal Boyd, Ute Zscharnt.