Tour the new BBC Television Centre development apartments and their retro interiors – chic living alongside a new Soho House, a cinema, and a new Bluebird restaurant and Royal College of Art campus.
Earlier this year, the BBC Television Centre opened its doors to offer a glimpse of what’s to come – a huge new residential and living district in White City, West London, in a building where Morecambe and Wise once put the National Grid under immense pressure due to the sheer number of people tuning in.
The history of the BBC Television Centre is magnificent. The development now underway there, even with its luxury penthouses, a Soho House hotel, and prized transport links, is far from equalling the entertainment that’s been created there.
But the transformation from what had recently become a dated and sad building is impressive nonetheless. Developers are creating a new village centred around the famous ‘doughnut’, with gardens, views across Hammersmith Park, a cinema, cafés, restaurants, and various other amenities that draw in those able to pay for such loveliness.
Apartments went on sale last year. Prices start at around £500,000 and go up to about £7 million – that latter figure gets you a rooftop penthouse apartment. While price varies, the endearing aspect of buying a slice of British broadcasting history echoes through every wall. Doctor Who, Blue Peter, Fawlty Towers – just three of the shows that were contrived on the site.
The BBC Television Centre managing director, Alistair Shaw, of property company Stanhope, spoke of his excitement about such an extensive change, not just at the site, but in the pocket of London as a whole.
He said at the viewing on Tuesday: ‘We’re really proud of what’s being created. There’s a rich history here, and what we’re creating is something that understands that and works with it.
‘We’ve focused on the importance of community with this development. We’ve looked at transport links, we’ve got the cinema, Soho House is here – the project is really rewarding and we feel it’s vital to incorporate and include links within the area.
‘White City is a rapidly changing environment. The BBC Television Centre has been central to the area for so long, we think that’ll continue. I think we’re doing it justice.’
The BBC ‘campus’ is 14 acres. A statue of the Green sun god Helios will stand proud at the centre of it all. It was the world’s first custom-built studio complex for television and radio, with 400 offices for 3,000 people, studios, dressing rooms, equipment stores, wig-making departments, a hair salon, make-up areas, wardrobe space for 16,000 items, libraries for scripts and music, and band rehearsal rooms, among other things. It was first conceived as a scribble on the back of an envelope by architect Graham Dawbarn.
Tuesday’s showcase, however, was far more geared towards the interiors than considerations of people, how they live, and how a new residential district will sit in a largely commercial area.
The apartments are the work of Paul Monahan and Suzy Hoodless. Together, the designers have given the flats a ’50s, retro edge, with subtle colours and notes from the past – including original pieces salvaged from the original television studios. The result is a canny blend of old and new – a nod to the eccentric past of British television in a globally diverse capital.
The overarching vibe I felt though was modernity. The tiles in the bathrooms are made in Italy, the flooring isn’t parquet – as ‘is often the case with projects like this,’ noted Paul – but diagonally constructed wood. The kitchens are fresh-looking, and, as Paul mentioned, the plentiful storage takes inspiration from Tokyo apartments of a similar nature. The bedrooms are light and hued. Bedrooms are kitted out with walk-in wardrobes.
Many of the flats will be situated within a crescent around the ‘doughnut’. The main entrance to private residences will be through the ‘stage door’, full of abstract mosaic murals, in a concierge lobby.
Explaining the interiors, Monahan said: ‘What we’ve done is transformative. These apartments are a little bit of history, and we’ve incorporated a retro edge.
‘The colour palettes use browns, dark shades with white, and odd spots of colour. We wanted liveable space – somewhere people could entertain and actually live in.
‘The storage was a big factor, and the additions of ‘monkey doors,’ for example, which allow bathrooms to be for either guests or as an en suite.’
Hoodless, who we talked to last month, reiterated the point that she ‘wants to capture the essence of the area, as well as the depth of history of the site’ with ‘interiors that are modern, classic, confident, comfortable and design-led.’
But as elegant and stylish as the design, the concept, and the structure, as the BBC Television Centre writes, enticingly, the heritage is clearly the biggest pull: ‘They called it the home of British television. You can call it home.’ And that, however much the building has changed, remains.
D&D London announced that they will be opening a second Bluebird at The Television Centre, White City this winter.
The former home of the BBC is being transformed into a hub of activity and life, and the new Bluebird Cafe will add to the hustle and bustle.
For 20 years Bluebird has been a historic Art Deco restaurant, café and retail venue on the Kings Road in the heart of Chelsea. The new 5,000 square foot site in White City will include a café, bar, deli and an outdoor terrace, and is sure to be as popular as the Chelsea outpost.
Des Gunewardena, Chairman and CEO of D&D commented:
Bluebird has always been a flagship D&D London brand and we have over the years received countless approaches to open more Bluebirds, we have however always said no. But when Stanhope approached us we said yes. Why? Firstly because of the growing success of Bluebird Chelsea especially after its recent relaunch. And secondly because we think the exciting new development of Television Centre in White City is a great location to start what I hope will become a significant expansion of Bluebird Cafes in the next few years.
Alistair Shaw, Managing Director of Television Centre, said: ‘We are excited to be able to announce that Bluebird will open its second ever site at Television Centre this year. As one of the most iconic names in London’s world-leading restaurant scene, this opening sets the tone for what will be a fantastic mix of experiences at Television Centre and in the wider £8bn regeneration of the White City area. We are pleased to be working with an operator of Des’ calibre, passion and track record, and look forward to welcoming Bluebird’s customers this winter when Television Centre opens to the public for the first time.
Royal College of Art
The Royal College of Art has agreed to open a new campus for 700 postgraduate students and staff in the heart of White City.
The three-storey Garden House Building in White City Place, will be the new Royal College of Art creative hub for communication, architecture and humanities in late 2017.
David Camp, Chief Executive of Stanhope, said:
It is fantastic for us to welcome the Royal College of Art to White City Place, the commercial heart of White City. Our objective is for White City Place to enable an ecosystem to develop which connects business, technology and education and inspires creative innovation in White City. The arrival of RCA alongside the BBC, Yoox Net-a-Porter and Imperial College is a major step forward in achieving this objective.
Professor Jane Pavitt, Dean of the School of Humanities added: ‘This move will give the School, and most importantly its students and staff, a quality of space and interaction that will foster new thinking and practice in relation to arts and culture, media, design and the built environment. We look forward to shaping a vibrant and integrated creative environment in our new home.’
Pergola on the Roof
Naturally, there’s lots going on in the area already. From the 26 May, Television Centre will host one a new rooftop food experience – similar to last year’s Storey.
Coming to West London will be Salt Yard, seasonal rotisserie LeCoq, and Chelsea’s ‘wild and foraged food’ restaurant Rabbit. Gourmet burger bar Patty & Bun will be there for four weeks during the 14-week residency. In all, Pergola will be one of the biggest temporary pergolas in Europe.
Alistair Shaw, Managing Director of Television Centre, said:
We are delighted that Pergola on the Roof at Television Centre is coming to White City, in partnership with some of London’s most exciting restaurants, such as award-winning Salt Yard charcuterie bar and restaurant and gourmet burgers from the fantastic Patty & Bun.
At Television Centre, we will be offering high quality independent restaurants as we open up the iconic former home of the BBC the public. Pergola on the Roof at Television Centre will be a destination rooftop eatery for both White City residents and guests from further afield, building on the success of last year’s rooftop venue.