BBC Media Zone


Client: Manchester City Council and ASK Property Developments

Location: Manchester, UK

Status: Competition

Area: 104,000 sqm campusbuilding; 65,000 sqm studio space

Planning Consultant: Deloitte (Drivers Jonas)

Project Manager: Cre8

Cost Consultant: Davis Langdon

Engineer: Arup

Landscape Architect: Capita Lovejoy

Highways: Capita Symonds

The practice was commissioned to undertake a feasibility exercise to consolidate the existing regional BBC functions with the departmental brands, creating new facilities to become the face and voice of Manchester and the North West Region.

Taking the ‘necklace’ of newly enlivened public open spaces in Central Manchester as the main point of reference, the masterplan sought to knit the new development into the grain of the existing townscape.

Working to a well-defined BBC brief, a series of buildings, including offices – flexible enough to include small studios or to be sub-let – and a studio technical building – including recording studios, a studio for the Manchester Philharmonic, technical space and audience handling space – were grouped around the pockets of public open space. These include Event Square, to be used for live broadcasts, concerts and other public activities; an Amphitheatre space, fusing the Victorian urban grain – with its rugged brick viaducts and warehouse buildings – with the modern; and an Arcade, bringing shops and café culture to the heart of this buzzing location, opposite the site of the Hacienda Club – linking old and new by taking its reference from European café culture, and reinforcing the industrial heritage represented by the railway viaduct.

The Media Zone is defined by a series of public spaces of differing scales, and gravitates around a central studio facility – The Hub. A colonnade connecting these spaces encourages interaction and allows undercover circulation. The masterplan proposes a mix of uses, facilities and amenities which extend into the surrounding city fabric and the broader region.

Marking the entrance to the Media Zone, BBC Building C creates an arcade space which facilitates a sense of transparency from the public realm, right into the BBC core regional facilities. The buildings form a backdrop to the amphitheatre space to the East, bounded by the viaduct, River Medlock, and historic industrial mill buildings.