BAFTA Enhances Headquarters with Comprehensive Expansion and Redesign

BAFTA Enhances Headquarters with Comprehensive Expansion and Redesign

BAFTA, the leading organization for motion picture arts in Film, Games, and Television, has completed a comprehensive expansion and re-design of its Grade II listed headquarters at 195 Piccadilly. The project aimed to enhance BAFTA’s international identity, integrate state-of-the-art technology, and ensure long-term sustainability in social, environmental, and financial aspects.

Originally built in 1883 as the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colour, 195 Piccadilly has been BAFTA’s home since 1974. However, the building’s size, layout, and outdated infrastructure limited the organization’s ability to deliver its charitable programs effectively. To address these challenges, BAFTA engaged Benedetti Architects as the architects and interior designers for the project. The entire endeavor was funded through donations and reserves, with no government subsidy.

The redesign transformed the tired and unfit-for-purpose 2,050m2 building into a state-of-the-art facility spanning 2,465m2. The design focused on creating flexible spaces that cater to the charity’s educational work, members’ needs, and revenue generation. The centerpiece of the renovation is the Learning and New Talent floor, which plays a vital role in inspiring and supporting diverse young creatives in the fields of Film, Games, and TV.

The project involved increasing the usable area, doubling the capacity and the number of washrooms, and implementing new infrastructure to improve fire safety, energy performance, acoustics, thermal comfort, and overall usability. The interior design unifies the space while celebrating BAFTA’s historic assets. The inventive reconfiguration of various spaces enables both charitable and commercial adaptability, with opportunities for special events and theatrical reveals, ensuring the long-term social and financial sustainability of the charity.

A notable aspect of the redesign is the addition of a new top floor that restores and raises two large 1883 Victorian rooflight spaces and decorative plasterwork that had been hidden for over 40 years. The historic plasterwork and structures were lifted 3m and enclosed with innovative high-performance ‘Eyrise’ smart glazing, providing breathtaking views over St. James’s Church and garden. Sustainability was also a focus, with features like a 3D-printed ‘’ airborne-carbon reducing bar/screen, showcasing the importance of sustainability to young visitors on the Learning and New Talent floor.

The project achieved significant environmental benefits, improving the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) benchmark rating from “G” to “B” and reducing carbon emissions by approximately 73%, saving around 292 tonnes of carbon per year.

The redesigned headquarters now include a 227-seat Princess Anne cinema/theatre, a new 41-seat cinema/theatre, a banqueting hall, four kitchens, multi-purpose event/exhibition spaces, a members’ bar/restaurant area, a skylit boardroom utilizing historic materials, judging/meeting rooms, staff welfare/offices, and new terraces overlooking Piccadilly and St. James’s Churchyard.

The interior design features a classic and durable palette of sustainably sourced materials, expertly crafted with bespoke detailing. Each floor exhibits increased refinement, culminating in a top-floor ‘crescendo.’

The enhanced facilities are future-proofed with robust flexibility, functionality, and financial efficiency, allowing for the expansion of learning and new-talent development programs. The aim is to engage approximately 10,000,000 learners annually online, equip around 80,000 individuals per year with tools for film, games, and TV careers, and provide tailored support to approximately 500 talented individuals each year.

Throughout the project, BAFTA collaborated closely with its consultants and established partnerships with innovative firms such as Dolby, Christie, Merck, and Noumena. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the £25 million construction was completed on time and on budget after 2.5 years. The building was commissioned and trained in September 2022, with the public opening scheduled for January 2023.

In a press release announcing the opening event, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, who is also the President of BAFTA, expressed his pride in BAFTA’s commitment to providing opportunities for young talent from diverse backgrounds. He emphasized the fantastic new learning spaces created at 195 Piccadilly, which will ensure that future generations have the support they need to thrive in the film, games, and television industries.

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