BBC TELEVISION CENTRE, INCLUDING THE MAIN CIRCULAR RANGE EXCLUDING THE SPUR, THE ORIGINAL SCENERY BLOCK AND THE FORMER CANTEEN
List Entry Summary
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
Name: BBC TELEVISION CENTRE, INCLUDING THE MAIN CIRCULAR RANGE EXCLUDING THE SPUR, THE ORIGINAL SCENERY BLOCK AND THE FORMER CANTEEN
List entry Number: 1393371
BBC TELEVISION CENTRE, INCLUDING THE MAIN CIRCULAR RANGE EXCLUDING THE SPUR, THE ORIGINAL SCENERY BLOCK AND THE FORMER CANTEEN, WOOD LANE
The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: Greater London Authority
District: Hammersmith and Fulham
District Type: London Borough
National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.
Date first listed: 09-Jul-2009
Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.
Legacy System Information
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System: LBS
This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.
List entry Description
Summary of Building
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
The central ring and Studio 1 of the BBC Television Centre is designated for the following principal reasons: * It has special historic interest as the country's first purpose-built studio complex devoted to television (in which Britain had a pioneering role), built for, and still used by, the nation's main television broadcaster; * Designed in the Contemporary style, the distinctive circular drum has a strong period feel, good detailing and a celebrated facade featuring the façade of Studio 1, with its atomic discs and the curved curtain wall on pilotis; * The central ring contains art of special interest such as the sculpture of Helios by T.B. Huxley-Jones, and the vibrant John Piper mosaic mural in the entrance hall; * This large and busy site has been much expanded and the special interest is confined to the central ring of the main building and Studio 1, excluding the seven peripheral studios and the interior of Studio 1, the scenery block, the canteen and the later extended spur.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
333/0/10102 WOOD LANE 09-JUL-09 White City BBC Television Centre, including the m ain circular range excluding the spur, the original scenery block and the fo rmer canteen
II Central ring and Studio 1 of this purpose-built television studio complex. Graham Dawbarn of Norman & Dawbarn; Partner in Charge Walton H. Lindsay. Planned from 1950; Central ring built 1955-60. Contemporary style. Other sections of the complex are not of special interest: the outer ring of studios, the scenery block of 1953-54; the canteen of 1954-55, the completed spur of 1964, 1978, 1983-8 and 1995-8, and the east tower to the southeast of the site.
MATERIALS: Steel frame with brick cladding and areas of curtain walling, in-filled with glass, opaque panels and tiling, and mosaic cladding.
PLAN: The listed area comprises the circular drum at the centre of what is broadly a 'question mark', although the attached outer ring of studios and the later spur are not of special interest, and the square Studio 1 to the east.
EXTERIOR: The distinctive drum, affectionately known as 'the doughnut', forms the core of the complex, and the area of special interest. It features a curved glazed quadrant to Wood Lane, raised on a two-storey colonnade of pilotis, and flanked by brick walls that continue the curve to each side. The windows at second to sixth floor here, and those from first floor and above fully lining the inside of the drum, are square metal casements surrounded with opaque spandrels or mirrored fixed lights. The pilotis are faced with a random mosaic of black, grey and white rectangular tiles. Lower and to the left is the predominant Studio 1, its front elevation a blind brick wall with a distinctive pattern of 26 white atom-like discs; the lettering above, which announces this as the BBC Television Centre, is a recent replacement; the entrance has a flat cantilevered canopy which has been glazed-in latterly. Through the colonnade is the circular courtyard of the drum which features a sculpture of Helios by T.B. Huxley-Jones, this a gilded muscular figure set on a slightly tapered column that rises through a shallow bowl set on four legs; the fountain is now filled with skylights for the offices below. The drum features eight storeys of offices and studios. To the south is a glazed and advanced full-height entrance tower with the distinctive cantilevered staircase visible through the tall window. The lower level of the courtyard wall is faced with a mosaic of sea green tiles with a stepped pattern picked out in red tiles. To the north is the main entrance hall and to the right of this is the full-height glazing of the eight-storey stair tower with original clock culminating in the circular glazed plant enclosure on the roof. Extending to the right of the ceremonial front are the successive phases of the later spur development (with clear divisions in the brickwork) and not of special interest. Projecting to the rear of the drum are two short but full-height office spurs with grey and blue chequer tile banding. The central ring is otherwise wrapped by a lower ring of studios and a taller wedge-shaped office block, these identified externally by square hopper windows in concrete surrounds that punctuate the sinuous brick wall; this ring (other than Studio 1) is not of special interest.
INTERIOR: The interior has been much modernised, however there some features of special interest, which are identified here. The stair tower to the south features a concrete cantilevered dog-leg staircase with polished timber handrail and blocky lettering to identify each floor in the linoleum. The main entrance hall features a dazzling, abstract, multi-coloured John Piper mural executed in mosaic by Dennis M. Williams; a wall of vertical timber boarding to full height with mezzanine balcony; and a lattice grid ceiling. The interior of Studio I, and indeed the other seven studios attached to the outside of the drum, is much modernised and very little original fabric survives; these interiors are not of special interest. Other interior spaces such as offices and the modern canteen are also modern and not of special interest.
HISTORY: In 1936, the British Broadcasting Corporation made the first regular television broadcasts in the world from studios at Alexandra Palace. The success of the pre-war experiments showed that purpose-built studios were needed, but it was only in 1949 that the BBC acquired 13 acres on the site of the Franco-British Exhibition at Shepherd's Bush. The architect for the site was Graham Dawbarn, known for his airport termini designs such as Brooklands in Surrey, Ringway in Manchester and Elmdon, Birmingham. A large design team was involved in the design and construction of the Television Centre, led by the Partner-in-Charge, Walton H. Lindsay, but the envelope on which the original design was sketched in December 1949 was Dawbarn's own.
This plan was designed to be as compact as was possible for such a large undertaking, yet capable of extension. It had also to be built in phases, and in this and its centrifugal arrangement it resembles Heathrow (a project for which Dawbarn had submitted a proposal and was passed over in favour of Frederick Gibberd) and the new universities of the 1960s. Dawbarn's sketch of December 1949 showed a hollow drum of offices ringed by studios, linked by a circular corridor on their outer face to a single scenery block and canteen. Artists, administrators, technical operations and scenery thus followed separate flow diagrams, kept apart except for on the studio floor. A colonnade shielded the entrance from Wood Lane, and the audience entrance to the largest studio.
Government restrictions on building through its loan sanction and licensing of materials ensured that building, begun in 1950, was then halted until 1953. Instead the BBC remodelled the former Gaumont Studios at Lime Grove, the Riverside Studios and (later) Shepherd's Bush Theatre. When work resumed at White City in 1953 it was on the peripheral scenery block, completed with offices as well as workshops so that it could function as an independent unit until the main building was completed. Work then began in 1954 on another peripheral building, the original canteen, which doubled as a rehearsal space. Work on the central offices and studios began in March 1955, and the main (third) phase was completed in 1960. When built, it was the largest television studios in Europe. The Italian sunken garden in the Blue Peter Garden was designed by Percy Thrower (1913-88) in 1978 and re-sited above this is the bronze head of Petra the dog, d.1977. The spur was completed between 1967 (TC8) and 1969 (News studios), and more studios were added in 1978, 1983-8, and in 1995-8.
SOURCES 'BBC Television Centre Scenery Block, White City, Wood Lane' RIBA Journal (September 1954) pp. 447-51. 'Second Television Building, White City' The Architects' Journal (6 Oct. 1955) p.451. 'BBC Television Centre, White City' The Architects' Journal (23 June 1960) pp.957-961. 'BBC Television Centre, Wood Lane' The Builder (15 July 1960) pp.98-103. BBC publication (2003), 'A Return to Form'. Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner (1991), 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West', p.225.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION The central ring and Studio 1 of the BBC Television Centre is designated for the following principal reasons: * It has special historic interest as the country's first purpose-built studio complex devoted to television (in which Britain had a pioneering role), built for, and still used by, the nation's main television broadcaster; * Designed in the Contemporary style, the distinctive circular drum has a strong period feel, good detailing and a celebrated facade featuring the façade of Studio 1, with its atomic discs and the curved curtain wall on pilotis; * The central ring contains art of special interest such as the sculpture of Helios by T.B. Huxley-Jones, and the vibrant John Piper mosaic mural in the entrance hall; * This large and busy site has been much expanded and the special interest is confined to the central ring of the main building and Studio 1, excluding the seven peripheral studios and the interior of Studio 1, the scenery block, the canteen and the later extended spur.
Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Cherry, B, The Buildings of England: London 3 North West, (1991), 225
'RIBA Journal' in September, (1954), 447-51
'Architects Journal' in 23 June, (1960), 957-961
'The Builder' in 15 July, (1960), 98-103
'Architects Journal' in 6 October, (1955), 451
National Grid Reference: TQ 23195 80485
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End of official listing