Turn up the mix at Television Centre and tune in for Harriet’s repeat broadcast of the Revo Study Tour, White City Place, which took place last Wednesday 15th May. It was a timely visit as the regenerated BBC studios site, now known as Television Centre, picked up the 2019 RESI awards for Development of the Year, the following day.
The tour began in The Pavilion, the Television Centre sales suite, which as a sign of the projects freshness, is still awaiting it’s full interior fit-out. The room was buzzing, packed with industry people. We settled down to hear introduction presentations from the major development players.
Alistair Shaw, Managing Director of Television Centre, Stanhope, spoke about the history of the site and the influence it has had on the development. He also noted the speed at which regeneration was taking place. Investments by Berkley Homes on an adjacent site and commitment from Imperial College to build a new campus, demonstrate backing for White City, just 12 minutes from Bond Street, which Shaw pointed out as an additional selling point.
Daniel Parle, Development Project Manager for Westfield, was up next and took us through a glitzy set of videos, fitting of the sites showbiz heritage. These demonstrated the range of events, conferences and different types of culture emanating from Westfield to show an expansive repertoire beyond pure retail. Part of the development will see the old White City bus depot converted to a 3000 capacity concert and events venue called Exhibition London, a venture between Westfield and Broadwick venues.
Finally Laura Fernie, Commercial Asset Manager at TfL, went live to tell us about TfL’s 800 arches, some of which have been opened up next to Wood Lane Station to increase permeability to and from the Television Centre. She also drew attention to the collaborative nature of the site development with owners, managers and customers working together.
Experience Makers was also pleased to hear about the West Youth Zone which is a state of the art youth centre being built as part of the EdCity development soon to take shape on site. A recent borough-wide vote saw nearly 3000 young people name the Youth Zone ‘West’ standing for ‘Where everyone sticks together’ – continuing the collaborative theme.
Voxpox over, we embarked on a walking tour, lead by AHMM associate Lloyd Spencer, the architectural firm responsible for converting the studios into flats. (At the time of the tour 400 out of 432 were sold.) First stop, the Television Studio itself. The only space still in action for filming, it is the central hub, and even though it was empty it was exhilarating to be there. (We all had a giggle at the thought that the ‘The Red Chair’ from The Graham Norton Show, was over there! – in a box! – behind THAT curtain!) Laughs aside, Spencer was keen to share that it was the working aspect of this iconic place which gave Television Centre a genuine blend and it’s energy – a truly mixed use site.
We were given a hint of this mix with a look around the showroom apartment – decked out with homeware from Westfield, and a talk with a representative from Publicis. This global ad agency moved several of it’s companies under one roof at White City Place. This has, we were told, allowed employees to work more flexibly and boosted productivity. Spencer also regaled us with the finer details – huge trucks moving scenery and a resident wandering around in his dressing gown, to the surprise of the AJ judging panel! There was also a good mix of visitors, with so called ‘millenials’ lounging on bean bags in the sun, overlooked by a bemused, older audience queuing for that day’s live shoot of Loose Women – an example of intergenerational use, not always seen in new developments.
The original circular design of the building by Graham Dawbarn lends itself well to the conversion and follows the same principle to focus the action in the middle of Television Centre. When fully let, there will be a bustling ring of F&B around the famous Helios statue. Whilst the apartments enjoy a circle of private gardens, the development has physically opened up this area to the public for the first time. As well as increased access through TfL’s arches at Wood Lane, a walkway will cut a path through the middle, to the White City Estate, just north of the development, also undergoing regeneration of it’s own, although at slower pace. The emphasis on permeability across the site hopes to encourage foot flow and increase activity at ground floor level – take two for the next phase of development. With the ‘set’ now mostly in place, it will be interesting to see how the community continues to develop in an around White City Place to really make it live & kicking.
So what did Experience Makers learn from the Revo Study Tour at White City Place?
• C is for collaboration across sectors
• P is for permeability and new paths, which will be interesting to see in use after the next phase of development is complete.
• M is for mix, and not just different assets, but different timings, actions and most importantly, people.