British architecture studio AL_A, with PLP and HASSELL, has just completed Sky Central, the latest addition to British broadcasting company Sky’s campus headquarters in Osterley, West London. Amanda Levete’s addition offers a new office space meant to combine the corporate and creative sides of the company through an open and flexible plan. The PLP and HASSELL designed interior takes inspiration from urban design, allocating a diverse array of programmatic spaces into “neighborhoods,” or clusters, meant to foster cross-collaboration between the business, creative and technology departments.
The building, which houses 3,500 employees, is arranged as a rectilinear volume and clad in an alternating pattern of iridescent panels and window openings. The interior resembles a kind of urban plaza anchored by a light-filled central atrium. The ground floor holds the public programming, equipped with an array of seating areas, and is lined with trees and other plantings. A series of winding timber staircases connects the ground level to the office spaces on the upper floors, all of which have clear visibility of the rest of the building. The warm timber accents of the staircases are echoed on the ceiling, which features a grid of timber-lined skylights enveloping the office in a warm glow of natural sunlight. Read more about the design of Sky Central:
"Sky plc has launched Sky Central, a new flagship building at the heart of its 13 hectare media campus headquarters in Osterley, West London. Over 3,500 employees are housed in the building, which has been designed to promote flexibility, openness, ease of access and communication to encourage the flow of people and ideas across the business.
The building was developed by a team including AL_A as concept architect, PLP Architecture as interior and executive architect with HASSELL leading on workplace design.
Bringing together the corporate and creative sides of the business under a single roof, Sky Central puts entertainment, live production and the development of new ideas through collaboration at the heart of the Sky experience.
In 2011, Sky asked AL_A to create a Strategic Campus Vision and masterplan for the entire headquarters alongside the broadcaster as it set out to transform the experience of working at Sky. The Vision reflects the workings of the organization with a campus connected by the assets that drive the business forward: creativity and people.
Embodying the principles of the Vision, AL_A worked on the concept and developed design to stage D for Sky Central, the largest single building on the site, winning planning consent for the project in 2013.
PLP Architecture was invited to design the building’s interior, develop the external envelope to respond to the changing interior program and deliver the project through to completion.
Wayne McKiernan, Director at PLP Architecture, said: 'The environment that we have designed supports Sky’s key values by promoting flexibility, openness, ease of access and communication through fostering the natural flow of both people and ideas throughout the elegant and innovative building.'
HASSELL Principal Felicity Roocke, designers of the activity based workplace, said the vast scale of the workplace required careful consideration to create a sense of connection and intimacy for the Sky team.
'We worked closely with individual teams to understand how they work and their requirements on the space. We wanted to give people a sense of ownership and belonging over their workplace, and for them to feel a genuine sense of connection with the organization they work for,' Felicity said.
This has been achieved with the introduction of 18 versatile ‘neighborhoods’ each housing around 200 people. The neighborhoods include a range of individual and team settings, from interactive to focused, to suit every type of activity.
Andrew Jackson, Sky Project Manager for Sky Central said: 'Sky Central is a unique creation, embodying the Campus vision of bringing people together to do the best work of their careers. The huge light-filled volumes of space are simple and intuitive yet inspiring and energizing, timeless and yet thoroughly modern.'
The three-story, 37,700m2 (GIA) building features a large triple-height central atrium above the bustling 100-meter long Sky Street that runs the entire width of the ground floor.
The building feels open and transparent because Sky want to make it easy to see what is going on across the business and for everyone to feel the DNA of Sky. Taking centre stage is an elevated, glass walled live Sky News broadcast studio, located so that employees and visitors alike can see Sky’s daily operations as soon as they are welcomed to the building. Above it, a large H-shaped atrium hosts all visible vertical circulation routes through the building. Ramps and staircases wrap themselves around two central mezzanines encouraging movement and therefore well-being, and facilitating ad hoc encounters between colleagues.
The street is lined with touchdown workspaces, a 200-seat 4K cinema, restaurants and cafes, informal meeting and support facilities, and connects the main entrance and reception areas to cultural amenities on the same level.
The roof of Sky Central is designed to maximize natural light. It is characterized by a grid of skylights that allow daylight to penetrate through the building to create top-lit workspaces, reducing façade glazing and the reliance on artificial lighting.
Sky Central reflects the broadcaster’s industrial heritage, updated to the standards expected of a 21st century broadcaster, with an anodized aluminum cladding that is a high-quality evocation of those humble origins.
Ho-Yin Ng, Director at AL_A said: 'Sky is proud of its beginnings on an industrial business park on the fringes of central London. AL_A worked with Sky to re-imagine a simple "shed" typology as a means of bringing the broadcaster’s activities and people together under one roof in a series of modern and people-centric workplaces on its campus in Osterley.
'The design embraces the simplicity of the industrial shed, the roots of the campus’s context, and defines a new model for the industry’s fast-paced and evolving future.'
Sky Central is a safe, healthy and environmentally sustainable place for everyone, and has been designed to a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standard.