Al Jazeera Media Network (AJMN) has unveiled its new UK headquarters and broadcast studio in the iconic Shard skyscraper in London. The scheme has created a pre-eminent broadcast production facility, incorporating innovative workspaces and offices 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.
Al Jazeera appointed John McAslan + Partners to design the reception and office area and Veech x Veech Architects to design the broadcast studio and adjacent newsroom. The Al Jazeera Media Network’s Creative Division were involved to this collaboration, providing the brief for the scheme and collaborating throughout the design and construction process.
John McAslan + Partners’ design for the office and reception includes a flexible work space, open-plan office layout, meeting rooms, break-out spaces, a kitchen and a café. The design clusters control rooms, edit suites, make-up and green rooms within a central area around the building’s core, defined by a sweeping semi-opaque backlit glazed wall. Conceptually, the sinuous glazing provides an organic foil to the fractured forms of The Shard’s base-build. The sweeping forms are echoed by the bespoke curved desks and furniture in the newsroom.
Fundamental to Al Jazeera was the creation of a contemporary and flexible office environment, easily adaptable to suit the client’s constantly evolving needs. The scheme features a dramatic reception area which dispenses with the need for a receptionist, featuring back-lit glazed walls enlivened by an interactive media wall displaying Al Jazeera’s current programming. As visitors walk around the office it provides a tour of how the news network works with each section linked to the next. Staff work in open-plan environments, a rare sight in broadcast facilities where workspace is typically segregated in rooms without direct daylight.
Broadcast design specialists Veech x Veech had 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.
Architects Veech x Veech have applied their comprehensive experience in this specific area of design to create a single space that can interact simultaneously with the lighting, the view out to the capital and the digital presentation screens.