Her Majesty The Queen officially opened the major new extension of the BBC’s Broadcasting House today. This marks the complete transformation of the iconic home of the BBC into a cutting edge centre for the digital future. Broadcasting House in Portland Place will now bring together the BBC’s national and international radio, television and online journalism under one roof for the first time, alongside the BBC’s Television and Network Radio services.

As a major landmark building in London, the need to protect and secure its continual broadcasting ability and operation facilities, ensured our expertise in innovative, bespoke blast protection solutions was sought to create robust blast protection to the lower level glazed elevations of the new BBC News 24 building.

This project involved the design, manufacture and installation of full height primary and secondary blast protection to the external elevations and internal peripheral zones of the building, enabling full functionality of operations and services in the event of a terrorist attack. Windell engaged in the early design of the project and facilitated the development of a scheme that incorporates both blast enhanced security glazing and commercial glazed products. The blast enhanced facades were completed using our Innovative Superwall curtain walling system as many of the screens exceeded 5 metres in height.

To meet the design requirements on the project, the external primary curtain walling was installed using a silicone pointed commercial glazed curtain walling with feature horizontal cover caps. The internal secondary blast Superwall was designed to absorb and dissipate the applied loads and afford full protection to the staff. A number of internal screens were also completed to mitigate the risk from blast pressure entering the multiple occupancy areas and studios, and these screens incorporated airlock and revolving doors. The system has the full functionality of a commercial aluminium curtain walling with the benefits of good acoustic, thermal and weather-tightness.

By engaging with Windell the client was able to achieve in a glazed façade what was deemed impossible without the use of solid concrete and steel. With the use of a decorative external frameless façade the overall architectural appearance is of a striking, modern, state of the art building, and with a secondary glazed Superwall capable of resisting a kerbside vehicle borne improvised explosive device, it delivers unrivalled protection. This project involved the design department pushing the boundaries of material performances to meet the project specification. Live blast trials were carried out to demonstrate the suitability of the systems and the fixing methods employed to anchor the glazing back to the structure. The level of performance necessary involved analysing each individual component and its reaction to the loads applied.

The design of the screens had to allow the building to function as a modern work environment and careful attention was given to door operation and visual appearance. Within the design, part of the curtain walling was positioned on top a parapet wall to allow access between the primary and secondary glazing. This feature meant that some of the sections had to be installed from the inside and reverse glazed. As a result of the performance requirements of the project the sections were extremely heavy and required Windell to develop an innovative means of installation. In response to this city centre location, specialist installation techniques were adapted and developed to move and position the curtain walling facades.

For Windell, this project showcases our ability to manage very complex projects and coordinate integration into precision build programmes successfully.