The construction of Channel 4's headquarters at 124 Horseferry Road began in 1990, was completed in 1994 and was a value-for-money, design and build project. The architects, Richard Rogers Partnership, were given a brief to develop 15,000 sq metres of headquarters for Channel 4, a residential development of 100 apartments, an underground car park and landscaped garden. The site to be developed was a corner plot in a mixed development area of Westminster, consisting of an abandoned 10 metre deep basement of a proposed 1970's post office building.
The geometry of the Channel 4 building was prompted by the site. Two four-storey wings containing mainly office space are arranged in an L shape, which addresses the corner of the street with a curved connecting space. The entrance, through a dramatic concave glazed wall, is the predominant feature of the building and where 80% of the architectural treatment is strategically focused.
A stepped ramp leads from the street over a glass bridge spanning a roof-light to the area below. Revolving doors through the suspended glass wall of the atrium lead into the reception area, and behind this a restaurant fills the curve with views onto the garden
To the left of the building is a stack of meeting rooms, held in an elegant framework of tapered beams; whilst to the right, wall climber lifts access all floors. Inside the building a roof top terrace extends from the boardroom and overlooks the landscaped garden below.
Throughout the design of the building close attention was paid to materials. Constructed on a concrete frame, the building is clad in powder-coated pewter-grey aluminium, and primary steelwork is a reddish brown, the colour of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. A deliberate effort was made to secure transparency through the use of plate glass and glass blocks, to reduce the impact of the building on a tightly built-up area and make maximum use of views out to the public open space. Light mesh screens, modelled on motorway anti-dazzle barriers, were applied to the outside of the lower portion of glazing to reduce solar gain and achieve the targeted energy efficiency standards.
Consistent with other Richard Rogers' projects the building has a combination of hi-tech detail, repetitive use of a few simple design elements, and visual emphasis on its use of glass, pewter-grey aluminium and exposed structural steelwork.
The Big 4 is a 50-foot-high metal '4' outside Channel 4's Horseferry Road headquarters in London. A variety of artists - some internationally renowned, some emerging - have provided ‘skins' for the structure with each artist putting their own unique stamp on the huge '4'. It was originally constructed in 2007 to celebrate both the Channel's 25th anniversary year and the launch of the Big Art Project. The installation mirrors the Channel's on-air identity, with metal bars forming the logo only when viewed from a particular angle. So far the Big 4 has been adapted by the acclaimed British photographer Nick Knight, the Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner, the Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui, Fine Art graduate Stephanie Imbeau , winner of the 2008 Big 4 Design competition and most recently by Hannah Gourlay Fashion Graduate and winner of the 2010 Big 4 Design competition.
For more information on the Big 4 please click here.
The building was designed with accessibility considerations. Wheelchair accessible ramps allow access to the entrance, reception, and restaurant, and there are security controlled glass gates in reception which provide access to the lifts to all floors. Self-opening doors are situated on the top glass walkway above reception and induction loops are fitted in meeting rooms and the cinema.