When it comes to radio broadcasting it doesn’t make for good listening if the presenter is being drowned out by passing traffic or chatter from the control room. So, when it was decided to create new studios in BBC Radio 2’s central London headquarters inside the imposing but acoustically “exposed” art deco Western House, the challenge was twofold – how to create a state-of-the-art open studio environment while at the same time preserving this predominantly glazed superb period facade.

A further challenge came from the impact of demolition and building work only yards from the building’s perimeter: all part of the wider BBC New Broadcasting House development in London’s West End, which will create a cutting-edge broadcast centre for BBC network Radio and for BBC News/BBC World Service.

The solution devised by architects LandSecurities Trillium and Tony Woolf Acoustics involved the construction of a one metre wide “service” corridor between the studios and the perimeter wall with Studio windows being positioned to align with existing external windows and so maintain views to the outside world. A specific client requirement was to provide studios with an interesting open environment with views throughout this accommodation.

Secondary glazing specialist Selectaglaze Ltd was invited to design and manufacture a range of secondary windows and observation panels to meet the necessary sound criteria and the large areas of glazing.

The external windows were treated with Selectaglaze’s Series 40 double hinged casements featuring 6.8mm acoustic laminate glass and fitted with high performance compression seals. The studio wall windows were set in pairs, using Selectaglaze’s Series 40 fixed panes angled at 7 degrees and glazed with 10.8mm and 6.8mm acoustic laminate glass – making a total of four layers of glazing between the studio and the outside. Fabric covered sound absorbent linings were fitted to the reveals between each pair of studio windows to help optimise acoustic insulation.

The “internal” windows between the main studios and support areas were specifically designed to create a dramatic effect by providing the maximum amount of clear vision. The Series 40 fixed panes were set in pairs, angled at 5 degrees and glazed with 10.8mm Amiran anti-reflective Optiwhite acoustic laminate glass from Schott. The largest of these panels being almost 3 metres long.

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