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BSkyB Harlequin 1 , London

The most sustainable broadcasting, studio and data centre building of its type.

Harlequin 1 houses recording, post production and transmission facilities for Sky’s broadcast and sports news departments, including eight state-of-the-art, naturally-ventilated studios, naturally-ventilated offices and free-cooled data rooms.

The architecture of the building dramatically expresses the integrated and world-leading sustainable technology. The giant natural ventilation chimneys of the recording studios are revealed on the exterior of Harlequin 1, which some have likened to a new power station architecture for the21st century.

Despite its physical gravitas, Harlequin 1 is, within its genre, the most sustainable broadcasting, studio and data-centre building yet designed.

Whole-life sustainability

BSkyB’s brief for a world-leading, genuinely sustainable HQ has challenged Arup Associates to capture every viable natural resource on the site and to radically minimise energy use throughout.

Arup Associates’ interest in whole-life sustainability focuses on the human experience of a building. This philosophy has led directly to creating a highly effective and flexible layout at Harlequin 1 that is in keeping with the working culture at BSkyB.


Post-production and technical spaces are positioned centrally, with office space wrapping around the perimeter of the building to allow access to natural daylight and fresh air, as well as views outdoors and across floors.

The building atrium allows a visual communication between all levels, providing employees with a sense of scale and location. A cantilevered zone above the entrance contains a series of people-centred spaces, including green rooms, breakout zones, a cafe and meeting rooms.

  • Harlequin 1 is, within its genre, the most sustainable broadcasting, studio and data-centre building yet designed.
  • Arup Associates have a designed a system driven by the waste heat given off by the studio lights to ventilate the recording studios naturally.
  • Specialists from Arup Acoustics helped to ensure that the design will control noise intrusion from nearby vehicles and planes on their descent to Heathrow. This is achieved by designing all the studios as floating box-in-box masonry constructions.
  • A biomass-fuelled Combined Cooling Heating and Power (CCHP) plant will provide sufficient renewable energy to reduce the carbon emissions from Harlequin 1 by at least 20%. This plant will provide enough energy annually to power the equivalent of 3000 homes and heat 600 homes.
  • Within the project, 100% of the structural timber will be from sustainable sources; a substantial percentage of construction materials are from local sources and a minimum of 50% of the construction, demolition and land clearing waste will be recycled or salvaged. Already, 90% of the demolished building material on the Harlequin 1 site has been recycled.