Channel 4 Television Headquarters
The entrance, the most striking space in the building, is defined by the first hanging curved curtain wall in London, rising the full height of the building. This atrium forms the main entrance space to the building with glazed walls that look through to the offices. Tiers of lightweight walkways at each level allow access from one wing to the other and animate the space. These walkways are formed from concrete and punctured by glass lenses that serve to create a dynamic geometric pattern when viewed from below.
Seen from the exterior, the entrance is flanked by two towers. The first accommodates a bank of lifts and services. The second tower is composed of a stack of meeting rooms, expressed as individual boxes supported on steel portal frames. Between the two towers the stone-paved public piazza rises gradually from street level to the main entrance. Here, a glass canopy hovers over the piazza, drawing visitors across a glass bridge towards the entrance. The bridge traverses what appears at first glance to be a pool, but is in fact the oculus that defines the circular foyer of the cinema below. From the cinema foyer, looking back up towards the street level, glimpses of the soaring glass wall and people crossing the glazed bridge provide an unconventional worm’s eye perspective.
The democratic aspirations of Channel 4 are reflected in the placement of the staff cafeteria at the heart of the building on the ground floor, half a level below the entrance and atrium. Glimpsed from the atrium over the reception desk, the cafeteria can be seen in the context of the communal gardens in the centre of the development. The space is used as a universal gathering and social venue.
The form of the building is given articulation by recessing the ground floor to expose the circular in-situ concrete columns that support the structure. The building is further emphasised by setting back the restaurant facade to provide access to a shaded south facing terrace, which overlooks the garden. The external walls facing onto the gardens are divided into four horizontal strips. The upper and lower strips are shaded with expanded aluminium screens, both to provide privacy for the inhabitants and to reduce solar gain. Light levels and glare can be further controlled internally by blinds that fit into the space of each horizontal strip.
The building with its soaring glass wall is lively and draws in visitors and passers by. The design is further integrated with the community through its adjoining housing development and shared access to the central gardens.
The building is set back from the corner of the site to create a public open space leading to the entrance of the building. The open space provides both a respite from the busy road and a significant setting for the entrance. Both the public and neighbouring residents have access to the central garden which is also used by Channel 4 staff for open air parties and events.
The glazed façade is shaded by external sun screening in order to reduce the amount of solar gain, while air-conditioning units extract heat from the recycled air in order to reduce energy demand.
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