Monday, 28 May 2012

BFF 30th Anniversary - Palace Theatre, Watford

Burrell Foley Fischer's redevelopment of the Palace Theatre, Watford was completed in 2004.  The building is made up of two distinct parts, the Listed Grade II Edwardian theatre originally designed by W.A. Theobold around the turn of the century and extended in 1910 by Wilson & Long, and a 1980s extension built as part of an office redevelopment on the adjacent site.

In the original theatre building, the stage house was completely rebuilt to provide a more generously proportioned partner to the 660 seat auditorium, which itself was remodelled to ‘close in’ the wide and Spartan side elevations and extended recess of the gallery.  Additionally, the seating rakes and layout arrangements were improved at stalls, circle and gallery levels.  The backstage areas were also completely rebuilt.

In the undistinguished 1980s extension, a vertical slot between the old and new parts of the venue defines the junction between foyer areas and historic auditorium spanned by bridges reaching between the two halves.  All front-of-house areas, access stairs and lift, and circulation and foyer spaces were rearranged and remodelled, opening up the front elevation to present dramatic new views of the public areas from the street.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

A New Forum for the Royal Academy of Engineering

The New Forum for the Royal Academy of Engineering has been completed on time and within budget.  As Britain’s national academy for engineering, the Academy brings together the country’s most eminent engineers from all disciplines to promote excellence in the science, art and practice of engineering.  The Forum is used to celebrate engineering in all its myriad forms and host events highlighting the integrated and innovative solutions required to address engineering challenges as well as providing extensive opportunities for networking, inspiration and disseminating expert knowledge.  Activities within the Forum help the Academy’s overarching objective of moving engineering to the heart of society.

The Forum is at No’s 3 & 4 Carlton House Terrace, London.  Carlton House Terrace is listed Grade I and forms part of Nash’s ‘Grand Project’ prepared in 1827 to provide a new route linking Regent’s Park and Waterloo Place.  It is known that Decimus Burton designed the interior of No.3 Carlton House Terrace.  The interiors had however been substantially altered by its owners over its history, suffering bomb damage during the Second World War and severe fire damage in 1989.

The Academy’s refurbishment by Burrell Foley Fischer LLP, has removed unsympathetic 20th Century alterations and reinstated the scale and integrity of the principal rooms at the ground and first floors.  The approach to detailing has not been of restoration but of developing a design palette that is appropriate to the scale of the interior spaces, the historic significance of the terrace and its occupation by the Royal Academy of Engineering.  The objective was to develop an appropriate language to be interpreted as being ‘calm, serene and timeless’.

The Forum provides four multi-use rooms at ground level, which are suitable for exhibitions, receptions, meetings and dining, and can be used individually or as a suite.  A 170-seat lecture theatre is located at first floor, together with an overflow lecture theatre/meeting room and associated break out space.  The large lecture theatre can be subdivided into two smaller rooms with a drop down acoustic ‘skywall’ that can retract into the ceiling void. 

To provide a single accessible entrance through No. 3 Carlton House Terrace for all visitors to the Forum, a new sinuous bridge and ramp has been designed, rising gradually across the forecourt to make up the 1m level difference between the pavements and reception.  Historic research revealed that Decimus Burton proposed a garden in front of No.3 with a winding picturesque path and BFF have used this as an inspirational starting point for the bridge design. The bridge is constructed in stainless steel plate, fabricated in triangular hollow section, polished to achieve a high quality finish.  Laminated glass balustrades fixed into stainless steel brackets on the side of the bridge provide guarding where the bridge spans the front courtyard.  The bridge was constructed in Scotland, by engineering apprentices at Babcock International PLC a company more used to the construction of nuclear submarines and the planting scheme is by Andy Sturgeon, a 5 time Gold Medal winner at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.  The establishment of a garden on the forecourt makes a public statement about the Academy’s commitment to sustainability, while the sinuous bridge marks 3 Carlton House Terrace as the home of UK engineering creativity.

The Academy set high sustainability standards for the refurbishment.  These are not always easy to achieve when working with a Listed building, although opting for refurbishment, rather than new build, has a much lower carbon impact.  Energy efficient features include: rooms designed to allow for natural ventilation when external conditions are appropriate, with heat recovery provided on the mechanical ventilation system, sash window beads brush sealed to reduce heat loss where possible, the use of a mix of LED and CFL low energy lighting, and a BMS which allows flexible room control to match daily building usage and minimise energy demand.  In order to minimise cooling loads the Academy accepted a wider range of internal temperatures than standard, which reduces reliance on terminal cooling units.  Each of the principle rooms is controlled based on occupancy, temperature and CO2 levels, which balances the drive for reduced energy consumption with the importance of indoor air quality and occupant wellbeing.  In addition provision has been made to allow for future improvements, including planning permission for a roof mounted solar thermal system to be implemented when existing boilers are replaced.

Monday, 21 May 2012

BFF 30th Anniversary - Brentford Urban-Design Framework

In 1996 Burrell Foley Fischer were winners of the Masterplanning Competition commissioned by the Government Office for London and the London Borough of Hounslow, as part of the Council’s £25m Single Regeneration Budget Project.

The, approximately twenty-acre site borders the River Thames and the Grand Union Canal and is on a particularly sensitive part of the river opposite Kew Gardens and Kew Palace.The proposals included a new square to open up the riverside frontage to Brentford Town Centre.  The River Thames has not been visible to people passing through Brentford for many decades.  This and other factors had contributed to the slow decline in the prosperity of the area and which was in need of urgent attention.

The study identified a number of key sites within a new urban-design framework for the area, involving a radical restructuring of the hinterland bordering the River Thames, the River Brent and the Grand Union Canal.

Monday, 14 May 2012

BFF 30th Anniversary - Love Architecture Festival 2012 - Celebrating BFF's Cinema Architecture

Over our thirty years BFF have become one of the acknowledged leading architecture practices in the cinema and media sector.  In June, Stefanie Fischer and John Burrell will be giving tours and lectures at some of our most popular cinema buildings.  The events will be part of the RIBA's Love Architecture Festival 2012, which will involve a range of events across England and Wales to bring architecture alive through walks, talks, tours, exhibitions, films, children’s activities and more.

Scala Cinema and Arts Centre, Prestatyn

On Wednesday 20 June Stefanie will be giving a lecture on the development of the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre in Prestatyn, hosted by the North Wales Society of Architects. 

The Scala was opened in 2009, bringing access once more to film on a site with strong local memories of cinema-going and helping to revitalise the town centre in Prestatyn.  In addition to a dedicated 150 seat cinema it provides a 150 seat multi-use auditorium suitable not only to cinema exhibition but also performing arts, dance and exercise classes, fairs and markets.  

Cinema City, Norwich

Stefanie will run a tour of Cinema City in Norwich on Thursday 21 June, which will be followed by a talk by Jon Greenfield, the Chair of the Norfolk Association of Architects, and a screening of A Single Man.

In 2007, Cinema City, the Regional Film Theatre for Norwich and Norfolk, secured its future by redeveloping from a single-screen cinema to a three-screen venue.  The cinema, Listed Grade I, occupies a converted medieval hall and an adjoining 1920s hall.  Excavation created the space for additional screens below a main screen similar in size and capacity to the previous single screen.  The refurbished café bar and restaurant is located in the medieval hall and its courtyard.

Click here for details of the Norwich event

Exeter Picturehouse

On Friday 22 June, Stefanie will lead a tour of Exeter Picturehouse.  This will be followed by a talk by Professor Robert Brown, Head of Architecture at the University of Plymouth, looking at the image of the architect in film, followed by a screening of the classic film The Fountainhead.

The two-screen cinema is housed in a converted 1950’s warehouse on the edge of the central conservation area in Exeter and on a prominent approach into the city centre and opened in 1997.  The foyer and a café bar have been accommodated in a new extension, which animates the previously blank flank to the warehouse.

Harbour Lights, Southampton

John will run a tour of Harbour Lights in Southampton on Saturday 23 June, which will be followed by a talk on Southampton’s new Cultural Quarter and arts complex, and a screening of Inception.

Harbour Lights, is a landmark building in the former P&O docks, providing two auditoria for film and video exhibition and conferences, an exhibition space, a café bar and education facilities. 

We have curated a gallery of our favourite images of the cinema published on Flickr.

Cinema SilhouetteCinemaIMG_9325Harbour Lights Picture HouseHarbour Lights Picture HouseHarbour Lights Picture House
Harbour LightsArt-house Cinema365-120077_wd_IMG058Harbour LightsSouthampton Harbour Lights
Harbour LightsHarbour Lights Picturehouse IMG_3853 The artsHarbour Lights CinemaCinema Night HDRHarbour Lights Cinema

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

BFF 30th Anniversary - Canford School

Burrell Foley Fischer were invited to take part in a limited design competition for a new Assembly Hall / Chapel / Performance space within the grounds of Canford School, Dorset.

Founded in 1923, the school stands in a magnificent 250-acre park. The river Stour forms a boundary and there are splendid formal gardens and playing fields. The oldest part of the buildings is a fine medieval hall (known as John of Gaunt's Kitchen); part of the present building is Georgian, the rest was designed by Sir Charles Barry in 1847, and is Listed Grade I.

The judges commented: “hugely impressive process and presentation.  Excellent styling and sympathy shown for both the existing buildings and the parkland setting.  The vertical lines and the sense of light were pleasing to contemplate”.