State-of-the-art studio has style and substance

Media company BSkyB approached K+N to work with it on the design and implementation of its new studio space for Sky Sports News. The privately owned furniture company was founded in 1925 and has grown to become the largest manufacturer of office furniture in Europe.

The sports channel, along with a number of other Sky brands, were relocating to a brand new, state-of-the-art production facility in Isleworth. Sky Sports News was to be the first channel to go live in the new facility. So K+N had its work cut out: the pressure was on.

BSkyB appointed architects Boulter Kalitowski and project managers TMC/MAG to assist with the relocation efforts. As Sky Sports News broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the move was always going to be a tough challenge. The timing of the move was also critical. The project teams had absolutely no margin for error: there was no opportunity for down-time or second chances if something went wrong.

Key to the design was the curved, free flowing nature of the newsroom desks. K+N were tasked with supplying the desks and chairs for the new studio. Colin Titlow, managing director of K+N, worked with TMC/MAG in understanding the brief and delivering the solution. “This was a very exciting and interesting project for us,” says Titlow, “we worked with our specialist team based at our production facility in Germany to develop a solution that matched the thorough and demanding brief.” Boulter Kalitowski’s design meant that every desk was a one-off. The upshot was that K+N had to design and manufacture 69 unique desks that were linked together and fitted on the site.

The challenge was made more difficult by the fact that K+N had a tight timescale to work to. Titlow says: “We were given a date to deliver and were informed that if we missed the agreed date, the studio would not go live.”

To speed up the process, all desks were delivered directly from K+N’s 1.5m square foot manufacturing plant in Frankfurt, and each one was numbered to allow easy installation.

Seating was a critical aspect of the project. Chairs were not only required to be ergonomically suited, but they also had to have the right visual impact so that they looked good on camera. After extensive testing, both on and off camera, Sky ultimately decided that the ideal choice was the K+N Signeta chair (pictured, left).

The objective of this project was also to create a fantastic work environment for the Sky staff. Titlow concludes: “The working environment needs to be a motivating place to work. Over the years, we have developed a proven reputation for delivering quality office environments. A happy workplace is usually a good looking workplace, which K+N can always help with.”

In Brief

Facts about Sky Studios:

■ Sky Studios went live on 4 July 2011. Building work started in 2006.

■ There is office space for over 1,370 staff.

■ The first channel to be broadcast was Sky Sports News and the programme was Good Morning Sports Fans.

■ The studios are arranged over five levels. Each level is the size of a football pitch.

■ There are five HD studios, 45 editing suites, 14 voice-over suites and four audio suites.

■ The building has been split horizontally into three zones: “make” (content production), “shape” (platform control) and “share” (transmission).

■ The facility includes an integrated wind turbine, on-site combined cooling and heating power plants, which supply at least 20 per cent of the energy needed for the building’s electricity and heating systems.

■ Sky claims that the studios are the most sustainable broadcasting facility in Europe.

■ Sky Studios won Sustainable Project of the Year at the 2010 Sustainability Awards and Most Sustainable Construction Project 2011.

■ Rainwater is harvested from the roof and is recycled to flush toilets and urinals.

■ There is a self-regulating computer lighting system to save electricity.