Blog: SECBE Awards 2022 finalist - British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) Headquarters

01 April 2022

Conservation & Regeneration

British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) Headquarters (submitted by Knight Harwood & Benedetti Architects) 

Conservation & Regeneration Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 Finalist

The design enhances BAFTA’s international identity as the centre of excellence for motion picture arts in Film, Games and Television; integrating innovative state-of-the-art technology and cost-in-use efficiency while sensitively balancing members’ needs with public access and revenue generation, ensuring the charity’s long-term social, environmental, financial sustainability.

The comprehensive expansion of BAFTA’s Grade II listed headquarters occupied by the charity since 1974. Built in 1883 as the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colour, a medium then overlooked by the neighbouring Royal Academy of Arts, 195 Piccadilly is BAFTA’s home. However, the building’s size, layout and old services severely limited its ability to deliver an ever-wider range of charitable activities. A new lease with The Crown Estate, taking the charity past its 100th anniversary, prompted BAFTA to review and invest in its premises, commissioning Benedetti Architects as architects & interior designers to expand
and fully reconfigure the building.

The 2,050m2 Listed building was tired, unfit-for-purpose, expensive to run and maintain. The new design creates 2465m2 state-of-the-art spaces with greater flexibility, balancing members’ needs with the charity’s education work and raising income. At the heart of the refurbishment is the Learning and New Talent floor, which is core to the charity’s mission, enabling them to support the inspiration and training of diverse young creatives in Film, Games and Television.

The design significantly increases usable area and doubles capacity & WC’s, by reconfiguring the entire infrastructure, improving fire safety, energy performance, acoustics, thermal comfort and useability. The unifying interior design enhances BAFTA’s unique character and celebrates the building’s historic assets. Knight Harwood's inventive re-working of various combinations of spaces, volumes, views and sequential movement enables robust charitable/commercial adaptability and opportunities for theatrical ‘reveals’ and special events to secure the charity’s long-term social and financial sustainability.

The most striking revelatory aspect of the design creates a new top floor that restores, raises, and re-integrates two enormous 1883 Victorian rooflight spaces and decorative plasterwork blocked-off and hidden for 40 years and considered lost. The historic plasterwork/structure is raised 3m and enclosed with innovative high performance ‘smart’ glazing (its first UK use) to create a new generously proportioned top floor with spectacular views over St James’s Churchyard.

Other aspects of the scheme include new and/or transformed/repurposed spaces such as: renewed 227 seat Princess Anne cinema/theatre (in association with Dolby ensuring it’s the UK’s best), a new 41 seat cinema/theatre, dedicated learning floor, 4 kitchens, multi-purpose event/exhibition spaces, members’ bar/restaurant/club, a new skylit BAFTA boardroom reusing historic materials found during construction and with bespoke furniture by Benedetti Architects, judging/meeting rooms, staff welfare/offices, and terraces overlooking Piccadilly and St. James’s Church. 

Key achievements:

  • Challenging and complex structural project undertaken with consideration to the sensitivity of surrounding neighbours whilst respecting the precious historic value of a beautiful building, now enhanced following the successful delivery of a high-quality refurbishment.

  • Innovative heritage approach boldly intervenes with the Listed Grade II heritage by raising the original 1883 rooflights to breathe New Life into a Listed Building; while remaining a sensitive restoration, fully supported by Historic England, The Crown Estate and Westminster Council.

  • Integrating state-of-the-art technology and cost-in-use efficiency while sensitively balancing members’ & new talent needs with public access and revenue generation, ensuring the charity’s long-term social, environmental, and financial sustainability.

Client: British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) 

Project's Team: Knight Harwood, Benedetti Architects, Equals, Jackson Coles, Harley Haddow, Price & Myers, Charcoal Blue, LAPD, Alan Baxter Heritage, Sandy Brown, DP9, Sweco

Find out who wins at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 Ceremony on Thurs 30th June 2022.

>> Find out more about the other Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards finalists here

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