Sky Studios is home to recording, post-production and transmission facilities for Sky’s broadcast and sports news departments. This includes naturally ventilated offices, free-cooled data rooms and eight ultra-modern and naturally ventilated studios.

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

The building’s architecture excitingly expresses the integrated and world-leading sustainable technology. The impressive natural ventilation chimneys of the recording studios are revealed on the exterior of Sky Studios, which some have likened to a new power station architecture of the 21st century.

Sky Studios is, within its genre, the most sustainable and technologically advanced broadcasting studio and data-centre building of its kind.

Implementing whole-life sustainability through design 

Within the project, 100% of the structural timber was from sustainable sources, with a substantial percentage of construction materials from local sources and a minimum of 50% of the construction, demolition and land clearing waste recycled and salvaged for future use. Already, 90% of the demolished building material on the Harlequin 1 site have been recycled. 

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

The building atrium offers visual communication between all levels, providing employees with a sense of scale and location. A cantilevered zone above the entrance contains a selection of people-centred spaces that make effective use of space, such as green rooms, breakout zones, a café and meeting rooms.

The Sky Wind Turbine

Sky’s Wind Turbine structure tapers sand twists into a prism-shaped support to change the wind’s direction and location, with the aluminium cladding mitigating excitation from the wind and allowing small amounts to pass directly through the tower. The cladding also reflects the sun to create an ever-changing play of light and shade.

The turbine design is bespoke to its rotational behaviour and was developed in collaboration with the manufacturer. Using modern aero-elastic simulation and fatigue analysis, the team produced an optimised design for Sky, and for any ‘Class III’ application of a Northwind 100kW turbine. The dynamic modes of the tower are optimised to avoid excitation from the turbine’s fundamental frequencies. The output has exceeded expectations, delivering significant energy at relatively low wind-speeds. 

Harlequin 1, the most sustainable broadcasting studio and data-centre building of its kind, was designed by Arup with a system driven by the waste heat given off by the studio lights to naturally ventilate the recording studios. Our acoustic specialists helped to ensure the design will control noise intrusion from nearby Heathrow. This is achieved by designing 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 annual energy to power the equivalent of 3000 homes and heat 600 homes.