BBC Mailbox, Birmingham

BCO Award winning building features SAS330 and a bespoke waveform ceiling system.

Key features

Sector

Commercial

Client

BBC Property

Architect

Building Design Partnership

Main contractor

Carillion

Sub-contractor

Clark & Fenn

Completion year

2004

System type

SAS330

Area M2

5,754

Region

United Kingdom

Product Groups

Set in the heart of the city centre, BBC Birmingham’s new home at the Mailbox (a refurbished sorting office in the city centre) is part of a development which houses hotels, shops, restaurants and bars in a canal-side setting, with a public walkway running through it.

The Mailbox comprises of new radio and television studios with offices. The entrance runs through two double-height floors linking the Mailbox’s retail street with BBC accommodation. The space also ties technical facilities to the open plan offices.

SAS International waveform ceilings were chosen throughout the building. The majority of the office space is open plan so the acoustics of the space was a serious specification criteria for architects Building Design Partnership. Mezzanine “gondola” floors, hung from the existing steel columns, provide additional floor area, and deliver fresh air, power and data into both cellular and open plan offices.

Where Pebble Mill had photocopiers sandwiched between desks, the Mailbox has resource oases, housing photocopiers, faxes, vending machines and kitchen areas in one.The Mailbox is modern and compact compared to Pebble Mill’s clunky historic building and light years ahead in terms of innovation and creative space.

The unusual design of the ceiling integrates services and chilled beams so all areas are cooled in the most energy efficient way possible. The waveform design stretches throughout the space only being interrupted by sections of SAS330 which service modular offices and meeting rooms on each gondola. Judges from the BCO (British Council of Offices) commented; “Ceilings risked being below BCO standards, but this has been overcome on the upper level with a clever ‘wavy’ ceiling making the most of space and hiding existing structure and environment- friendly chilled beams.”

To avoid a call centre feel, areas are colour­coded and corridors have Birmingham street signs such as Corporation St for ease of identification. BBC Staff members have helped design seven chill-out spaces throughout the 100,000 sq/ft open plan space which range from a 50’s American diner to a Japanese Zen garden.

Floor to ceiling windows let in light and views of the canal areas outside. Visitors to the public space can leave messages for the radio presenters currently on air and peer into the radio studios. Giant plasma screens show highlights of BBC programmes. The space also has a café and a BBC shop which stocks a variety of BBC dvds, videos, cassettes, cds and books.

Externally, two ‘picture windows’ have been introduced. These ‘sign’ the BBC presence and provide an open aspect, improving the internal natural light and creating a strong visual link to the canal side space and the City centre beyond.

The BBC Mailbox was awarded three BCO awards in October 2005 including the prestigious ‘Best of the Best’.

Systems used