BBC Centre by FAT 01.03.12

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FAT has completed a TV production centre for the BBC at Roath Basin in Cardiff Bay. The studio is the first of a number of buildings to be constructed in the Roath Basin area, in a masterplan scheme shepherded by developer Igloo and the Welsh Assembly. Mark Hallett, development director for urban regeneration at Igloo, explained that – as this is the first building to be completed on the site – the developer wanted a design that would hold its own as dust flew all around it, but integrate into the streetscape once other buildings were completed.

Roath Lock, as the studio is officially known, certainly stands out. Driving down to the bay from Cardiff's town centre, I could see the bright blue of the building's facade from half a mile away. Even amid the overwhelming blue of sky and sea, half overshadowed by rain and mist on the day that I visited, it certainly brought a smile to my face.

From the outside, the 170,00sq ft studio complex looks like a relatively basic 300m-long shed. But FAT has given what could have been a standard-issue steel box a rather theatrical treatment. Sean Griffiths, director and co-founder of FAT, explained the reasoning behind this: "TV studios are an introverted kind of building, so the ultra-decoration is a way of mediating or expressing the worlds that are created within it outwards to the city."

As the buildings will host the filming of Doctor Who and Casualty, elements of the facade suggest both the fantastical worlds of the former – especially the neo-Gothic splendour of the main entrance – and the "everyday aesthetic" of the latter – hence the crosses cut into the timber planks.

No doubt, some will grumble that FAT has been too indulgent and too kooky with its design for the facade. But this will, after all, become a hub for the BBC's production of television drama. It could easily have been an uninspiring, unwelcoming shed. And, as Hallett argues, if you can't use a theatrical facade for a TV drama production studio, then when can you?

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Image

Tim Soar

 

Words

Crystal Bennes

quotes story

TV studios are an introverted kind of building, so the ultra-decoration is a way of mediating or expressing the worlds that are created within it outwards to the city

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