Breaking News - Smithfield Market Plans rejected by Communities Secretary

Eric Pickles, Communities Secretary, has rejected the proposal to build new office blocks at Smithfield Market retaining only the facades.

Burrell Foley Fischer prepared alternative plans for the redevelopment of London’s Smithfield Market, for SAVE Britain's Heritage and the Victorian Society.  The scheme proposes the restoration of the existing 19th Century Buildings to form a new cultural and retail hub, to complement the already burgeoning “Smithfield Quarter’. 

The impressive roofs of Smithfield General Market would be retained as a fantastic canopy and creating a beautiful light-filled interior.  The scheme makes available large areas, at multiple levels, without the addition of intrusive blocks.  The very extensive basement areas are brought into use as spaces for exhibition galleries, fashion shows and lecture halls. 

The successful outcome of the Pubic Inquiry follows two years of campaigning work involving BFF. This started when SAVE first asked John Burrell to look at the project in 2012. He immediately realised that it was not just the street facades that were important but also the magnificent formal roof structure covering the interior market spaces, and the spatial and development potential of the vast basements that originally linked Farringdon and Barbican stations which are hidden from view. 

BFF showed that was not necessary to demolish the above ground structures in a futile attempt to make a 'conventional' development site because the real value, interest  and 'cache' was embodied in the existing buildings, their street connections and the huge relatively uncontentious potential and value of below ground spaces, especially with the new Crossrail platforms soon to be  close by.

The campaigning document produced for SAVE by BFF showed how the street spaces around the market can become the focus of a major new urban space in London affirming the identity of the Smithfield quarter and its street life that is already underway.  John presented this evidence to the Public Inquiry.

10,000 sq ft Office fit out for Charitable Trust completed

We have completed the fit out of new offices for a major Charitable Trust.  They have moved to the Peak building, close to Victoria Station in Central London.  Our Clients have leased an entire floor of 1,000 sq m (10,800 sq ft).
We carried out space planning, design of the reception and partitioning to form meeting rooms and private offices.  We also advised on the selection of new furniture and the re-use of their existing furniture where appropriate.  The project was completed to programme and within budget.

A New Forum for the Royal Academy of Engineering

The New Forum for the Royal Academy of Engineering has been completed on time and within budget.  As Britain’s national academy for engineering, the Academy brings together the country’s most eminent engineers from all disciplines to promote excellence in the science, art and practice of engineering.  The Forum is used to celebrate engineering in all its myriad forms and host events highlighting the integrated and innovative solutions required to address engineering challenges as well as providing extensive opportunities for networking, inspiration and disseminating expert knowledge.  Activities within the Forum help the Academy’s overarching objective of moving engineering to the heart of society.

The Forum is at No’s 3 & 4 Carlton House Terrace, London.  Carlton House Terrace is listed Grade I and forms part of Nash’s ‘Grand Project’ prepared in 1827 to provide a new route linking Regent’s Park and Waterloo Place.  It is known that Decimus Burton designed the interior of No.3 Carlton House Terrace.  The interiors had however been substantially altered by its owners over its history, suffering bomb damage during the Second World War and severe fire damage in 1989.

The Academy’s refurbishment by Burrell Foley Fischer LLP, has removed unsympathetic 20th Century alterations and reinstated the scale and integrity of the principal rooms at the ground and first floors.  The approach to detailing has not been of restoration but of developing a design palette that is appropriate to the scale of the interior spaces, the historic significance of the terrace and its occupation by the Royal Academy of Engineering.  The objective was to develop an appropriate language to be interpreted as being ‘calm, serene and timeless’.

The Forum provides four multi-use rooms at ground level, which are suitable for exhibitions, receptions, meetings and dining, and can be used individually or as a suite.  A 170-seat lecture theatre is located at first floor, together with an overflow lecture theatre/meeting room and associated break out space.  The large lecture theatre can be subdivided into two smaller rooms with a drop down acoustic ‘skywall’ that can retract into the ceiling void. 

To provide a single accessible entrance through No. 3 Carlton House Terrace for all visitors to the Forum, a new sinuous bridge and ramp has been designed, rising gradually across the forecourt to make up the 1m level difference between the pavements and reception.  Historic research revealed that Decimus Burton proposed a garden in front of No.3 with a winding picturesque path and BFF have used this as an inspirational starting point for the bridge design. The bridge is constructed in stainless steel plate, fabricated in triangular hollow section, polished to achieve a high quality finish.  Laminated glass balustrades fixed into stainless steel brackets on the side of the bridge provide guarding where the bridge spans the front courtyard.  The bridge was constructed in Scotland, by engineering apprentices at Babcock International PLC a company more used to the construction of nuclear submarines and the planting scheme is by Andy Sturgeon, a 5 time Gold Medal winner at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.  The establishment of a garden on the forecourt makes a public statement about the Academy’s commitment to sustainability, while the sinuous bridge marks 3 Carlton House Terrace as the home of UK engineering creativity.

The Academy set high sustainability standards for the refurbishment.  These are not always easy to achieve when working with a Listed building, although opting for refurbishment, rather than new build, has a much lower carbon impact.  Energy efficient features include: rooms designed to allow for natural ventilation when external conditions are appropriate, with heat recovery provided on the mechanical ventilation system, sash window beads brush sealed to reduce heat loss where possible, the use of a mix of LED and CFL low energy lighting, and a BMS which allows flexible room control to match daily building usage and minimise energy demand.  In order to minimise cooling loads the Academy accepted a wider range of internal temperatures than standard, which reduces reliance on terminal cooling units.  Each of the principle rooms is controlled based on occupancy, temperature and CO2 levels, which balances the drive for reduced energy consumption with the importance of indoor air quality and occupant wellbeing.  In addition provision has been made to allow for future improvements, including planning permission for a roof mounted solar thermal system to be implemented when existing boilers are replaced.

BFF 30th Anniversary - The Lux Cinema

The Lux Centre Cinema, the home of the London Film Makers Co-op, opened in Hoxton in September 1997.  At night, the two-way projector cast images onto the screen as well as into the square outside. Slate floor-tiles spilt onto the pavement, and video pits on the floor of the foyer showed obscure one- minute films by local multimedia artists. Still in the foyer, a glass- panelled alcove flowed down from the ceiling like a waterfall. Engraved on the panes a photographic image of the ruched curtains that used to adorn traditional cinema screens. The seat in the middle was reserved for the proverbial kissing couple in the back row. 

The Lux was not just an arthouse cinema, it was also intended as a cut-price centre for experimental film-makers. The auditorium had a flat wooden floor with removable seats for multimedia and live performances, music and dance, conference and film production. Acoustic panels along the walls rotated 180 degrees, to reveal frosted glass windows when natural light was required. Editing suites and hi-tech equipment were available to hire, and the gargantuan windows of the gallery on the first floor exposed the interior. True to the tradition of this working-class area, it was a state-of-the-art cinema that served a functional purpose. 

Unfortunately the rapid regeneration of Hoxton led to rent prices more than trebling and this became a key factor in the eventual demise of the LUX as a venue based organisation in 2002.

Sunday Times reports on the 'real cinema' movement

An article in yesterday's Sunday Times "Culture" magazine reported on the 'real cinema' movement, using the analogy of the 'real ale' campaign.  They noted that rather like those who "turned against the chemical horrors of 'keg' in the 1970's", there is an increasing "demand for real local cinemas, and that people really do want to go out for their films, but preferably not to an out-of-town multiplex".  The article explains how the smaller independent cinemas provide an alternative to the "cold alienation of the multiplex" by using "town-centre sites and an 'event' style, including proper restaurants and bars".

Amongst the example cinemas cited are three designed by Burrell Foley Fischer, Broadway, in Nottingham, the Kino, in Hawkhurst, Kent, and Cinema City, in Norwich. BFF has specialist knowledge of the film sector, underpinned by 30 years experience working for independent cinema operators, regional film theaters and community arts cinemas. 

One of the screens at Broadway, featuring sofa style seating
Broadway was a phased development around a client in occupation of a building that started life as a Methodist Chapel and was converted into an Educational Co-operative Building in the 1950s.   Facilities provided in early phases of development include a new cinema for film exhibition and conferences, a refurbished 1950s auditorium for film exhibition, edit suites for film and video production and training, and broadcast-standard studio, a café bar, front-of-house accommodation, administrative offices for Broadway and like-minded organisations, educational facilities, seminar rooms, and creative media start-up units.

The Broadway bar
The final phase of the centre’s development provided two new screens and a multi-media lab that allows Broadway to exploit the potential of digital media.  A glazed elevation opens up the frontage to communicate more effectively Broadway’s engagement with film and media and provides improved foyer, social and conferencing spaces.  The project was awarded the Lord Mayor of Nottingham’s Award for the best adaptation of an existing building 1997 and an Adapt Award 1998.

The entrance to the cafe bar 

BFF 30th Anniversary - Kino Cinema

Kino Hawkhurst was the first all digital screen in the UK. The design addresses the challenge of providing a stylish and comfortable environment for enjoying film within the constraints of a listed church hall and a phenomenology tight budget.  The auditorium is an insertion within the church hall and was detailed to address the acoustic and technical requirements of a cinema without damage to the original fabric of the building.  If the cinema ceased to operate within the hall, it could be stripped out to reveal the original painted timber boarded ceiling and walls, elaborately detailed window frames and reveals and timber trusses.

The technical requirements of the brief to accommodate acoustic absorption, house and emergency lighting and a surround sound installation have been used to create a striking interior based on an interpretation of a Paul Klee painting.  While evoking the identity of an art house the cinema has proved popular with cinema goers of all ages including teenage audiences.  A café bar and landscaped courtyard has also been provided.  The design of front of house areas, while respecting the character of the building carries through the colour palette used in the auditorium.  The gridded design for the cinema has been adopted as the Kino logo.

Victoria Hall, Hawkhurst (David Anstiss) / CC BY-SA 2.0
Visit the Kino Cinema Website

BFF appointed to design Office Fit-out for Charitable Trust

We have been commissioned by a major Charitable Trust to design the fit-out for their new offices.  The offices are in The Peak building, close to Victoria Station in Central London and our Clients are taking an entire floor of 1,000 sq m (10,800 sq ft).  BFF are undertaking space-planning, design of the reception and partitioning to form meeting rooms and private offices and advising on selection of furniture.

Empty shell at The Peak
BFF have previously designed workspaces for a number of clients including, The Royal Society, The Academy of Medical Sciences, The Royal Academy of Engineering and The Institute for Government.

Offices at the Academy of Medical Sciences

BFF 30th Anniversary - Institute for Government

The Institute for Government is an independent centre formed in 2008 to help make government more effective. They aims are to carry out research, look into the big governance challenges of the day and find ways to help government improve, rethink and sometimes see things differently.  Burrell Foley Fischer LLP were the Architects for the refurbishment and remodelling of the Institute’s new Listed Grade II* headquarters in Central London. 

The building incorporates space for researchers, training and social events, a boardroom, a lecture theatre, meeting rooms, offices, a library and dining and reception facilities.  

BFF 30th Anniversary - Harbour Lights Cinema, Southampton

A landmark building located in the former P&O docks, provides two auditoria for film and video exhibition and conferences, an exhibition space, a café bar and education facilities.  The design celebrates the experience of cinema going, and being the antithesis of the black-box space, it provides a contrast to its multiplex rivals.  The foyers, café bar and offices have an open aspect which fully exploit the centre’s dockside location.

The building, completed in 1995, was shortlisted for The Sunday Times/Royal Fine Art Commission Building of the Year Award 1995 and gained a Civic Trust Commendation 1997.  Harbour Lights is attributed with having had a leading influence on the design of a new generation of cinemas.

BFF 30th Anniversary - British Museum Temporary Shop

Happy New Year.  2012 marks the thirtieth anniversary of Burrell Foley Fischer.  Over that period we have become recognised as one of the leading practices specialising in buildings for cinema, media and the performing arts, together with urban design, residential and educational design and the adaptation and restoration of historic buildings. We are proud that the buildings designed by the Practice stand the test of time and are being used and enjoyed by large numbers of people every single day, whether as places to live, to work, to learn, to collaborate or simply to socialise and relax.

Over the course of this anniversary year we will take the opportunity to look back at a number of our schemes, those that were built and those that never progressed beyond the drawing board (of course in the early days it really was the drawing board!).  Starting with a project designed to exist for just three years...

Burrell Foley Fischer LLP won a design competition in July 1997 to design a temporary shop on the forecourt of the British Museum while the existing shop was decommissioned for the Great Court Project.  The challenge was to design a contemporary building that could sit happily in front of Smirke’s great portico and that would provide an accessible, enticing environment for trading by December 1997.

A simple trabeated structure of large Douglas Fir sections, reflecting the rhythm of the adjacent colonnade, allowed the shop to evoke references to the origins of the Museum’s classical architecture in the primitive hut.  The shop was designed so that it could be taken down after three years leaving no trace on the forecourt, obviating the need for Listed Building Consent.

Marimeko shop opens in Cambridge

A new shop, Nord, is open in Cambridge, with a fit-out designed by Burrell Foley Fischer.  Nord is the latest of the 32 Marimekko shops in the United Kingdom and can be found in Bridge Street. 

Marimekko, established in 1951, is a Finnish textile and clothing design company renowned for its original prints and colours. The company designs and manufactures high-quality clothing, interior decoration textiles, bags and other accessories.  The design uses clean lines and neutral colours in order to give prominence to the merchandise.

Stefanie Fischer gives evidence to All Party Parliamentary Group for Young Disabled People

Stefanie Fischer today gave evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Young Disabled People as part of their Inquiry into the issues that affect young disabled people and prevent them from living fully independent lives and how this needs to be improved.  Today’s session was on the subject of leisure with a focus on cinema.

Stefanie was invited to discuss examples of good and poor practice regarding disabled access to cinemas and to give the benefit of her extensive experience of designing independent cinemas.  Also giving evidence were representatives from Trailblazers, who recently investigated this issue (see previous post), the Cinema Exhibitors Association, and the cinema operators, Cineworld, Odeon, Vue and Picturehouse.  They were shown a screening of the Lights, Camera, Access documentary, which outlines the problems disabled movie-goers face and ways to address them, which is currently being screened at film festivals throughout the UK.

BFF's remodelling and refurbishment of Broadway, Nottingham's Media Centre, in a converted former Methodist Chapel was given an ADAPT award in 1998.  Our conversion of Norwich Cinema City from a single to a three-screen proved that it is possible to make a fully accessible venue even in a Grade I Listed building.  It won the National Local Authority Building Control Built in Quality Award 2008 for the Best Project for Access or compliance with Disability Regulations. 

Kings Cross / St Pancras Development Area

As Central St Martins College of Art and Design moves into their new premises the redevelopment of the Kings Cross/St Pancras area of London continues.  Burrell Foley Fischer have been involved with a number of commercial projects in the area including two office developments and a mixed use scheme, including D1, B1 and residential uses.

We obtained Planning Permission for the conversion of a former purpose-built industrial printing works building on Wharfdale Road, within the Kings Cross Conservation Area, into offices and small business units.

We also obtained Planning Permission for the Noah’s Yard development in York Way.  The scheme provides 6,000 sq ft of office accommodation together with a ground floor restaurant, opening onto the Regent’s Quarter development.

For Argent’s Kings Cross Central development we prepared a scheme to test the parameter plans for Block J, to confirm that the developers brief for mixed use could be accommodated within the parameters for which Outline Planning Permission was being sought. 

Click here for further information on our commercial projects

Rio Cinema features in hit film, One Day

The much loved independent cinema, the Rio, in Dalston, East London, features in the recently released hit movie One Day, the adaptation of the bestselling book by David Nicholls.  The lead character, Emma, played by Anne Hathaway, is seen visiting the Art Deco cinema in the film.

The cinema was designed by George Coles of Adams and Coles in 1913 and altered by F.E. Bromige in the 1930s. At this time an Art Deco shell was created within the existing interior, reducing the size of the auditorium. While continuing to operate as a successful local cinema, by the 1990s the building was in need of a comprehensive overhaul. 

Burrell Foley Fischer’s refurbishment provided the cinema with state of the art audio-visual technology and comfortable new stalls seating within the renovated and restored Art Deco shell. The box office and bar counters are designed to appear as modern insertions within the existing building fabric.  External and internal illuminated signage and neon strips accentuate the fluted features and vertical bands of the original façade giving the cinema a strong night presence.

The cinema has also recently been featured by the Guardian when it was the first to be reviewed as part of their weekly “Cine-files” series.  Each week they review the facilities and programming policies of each venue and describe the Rio as “a morally good cinema among thousands of bad and ugly”. 

See the Guardian's review

BFF buildings open to the public as part of Open House London

Four Burrell Foley Fischer buildings are open to the public as part of Open House London, which takes place on 17 and 18 September 2011.  Open House London is the capital’s greatest architectural showcase; a city-wide celebration of the buildings, places and neighbourhoods where we live, work and play. It provides the general public with the chance to explore hundreds of inspiring buildings for free, which this year includes The Royal Society in Carlton House Terrace, the Almeida Theatre in Islington, Stratford Picturehouse and the Cine Lumiere at the Institut Francais. Please note that advance booking is required for some events – refer to the Open House London website for full details.

Cine Lumiere at the Institut Francais
Burrell Foley Fischer’s refurbishment of the, Listed Grade II, 228 seat Art Deco Cine Lumiere at the Institut Francais in South Kensington restores the character and quality of the interior whilst ensuring it is up to date in terms of projection and sound technology, comfort and operational flexibility.

Stratford Picturehouse
This new build four screen cinema has exhibition and café bar facilities, and a private restaurant integral to the design. The dominant feature is its projection room, a three-storey-high cylindrical drum, suspended by metal rods from the glass ceiling and running the length of the building. 

The Royal Society

The refurbishment and reorganisation of The Royal Society’s buildings entailed making better use of a unique set of Listed Grade I Nash buildings by providing a coherent, high profile, architectural setting for the society’s activities.

The Almeida Theatre
Burrell Foley Fischer have been the Almeida’s architects since 1982 working with successive generations of directors.  The theatre has been developed into a venue of exceptional quality for the performance of drama, opera and music, and for other related arts activities. 

Improving the cinematic experience for people with disabilities

The Guardian newspaper today highlights a report produced by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s Trailblazers exposing the widespread second-class service people with disabilities experience in UK cinemas.

Read the Guardian report

Burrell Foley Fischer always ensures that all cinemas we design are fully accessible and provide a variety of seating positions for cinemagoers in wheelchairs and their able-bodied companions.  The Trailblazers report however found that this was unfortunately not standard practice in the industry, and that the smaller independent cinemas generally provide better access for disabled people than the major chains.

Download the full report

The report includes Stefanie Fischer’s tips for cinema operators and developers to make cinemas welcoming and accessible to all.  In the accompanying documentary, produced by the organisation, she comment’s, “Cinema designers and cinema exhibitors could be more aware and if the whole issue of how people access the auditoria is considered right from the outset then it is not difficult to provide a choice of seating positions”.

Watch the documentary

BFF's remodelling and refurbishment of Broadway, Nottingham's Media Centre, in a converted former Methodist Chapel was given an ADAPT award in 1998.  Our conversion of Norwich Cinema City from a single to a three-screen proved that it is possible to make a fully accessible venue even in a Grade I Listed building.  It won the National Local Authority Building Control Built in Quality Award 2008 for the Best Project for Access or compliance with Disability Regulations.  

The report also features Stratford East Picturehouse, designed by Burrell Foley Fischer, as an example of best practice, commenting “the cinema demonstrates that architects clearly considered accessibility when planning the new design.  There is inclusive access throughout the cinema and at no point does a disabled person feel segregated”.

Conservation award for Norwich Cinema City

We were very proud to be presented with The Norwich Society’s inaugural “Sir Bernard Fielden Award” for excellence in alternations and restoration of an historic building, for our remodelling and refurbishment of Norwich Cinema City.  The award was created in memory of Sir Bernard Fielden, one of the world’s leading authorities on the conservation of historic buildings.  The award, a model of one of the Assyrian lions outside Norwich City Hall,  sculptured by Do Philips and cast by John Hardy, will be passed to the next recipient of the bi-annual award this autumn.

Norwich Cinema City was converted from a single-screen to a three-screen, digitally equipped, venue to secure its future.  The cinema occupies a converted medieval hall house, Listed Grade I, that was extended in the 1920’s by Boardman, a notable local architect, to create an assembly hall on the footprint of the garden to the house.  Excavation of the area occupied by the twentieth century hall created space for the additional screens below a main screen similar in size and capacity to the previous single screen. 

The front-of-house facilities are housed in the medieval parts of the building, with the main hall providing a café bar restaurant, ‘The Bar and Dining Rooms’.  Additional seating for drinkers and diners is provided in the covered medieval courtyard to the rear and a terrace to the front of the building, all of which combines to provide an oasis of calm in the city centre.

Restaurants open at Castle Quay, Bedford

The Riverside Grill has opened at Castle Quay in Bedford.  This new restaurant offers diners a stylish and artistic environment to enjoy a combination of food and art, showcasing the talent of staff and students of Bedford College.  This is the first to open of the three restaurants units on the development, all with  a south facing terrace overlooking the River Ouse and the Castle Bailey Gardens archaeological site.

Castle Quay, a Burrell Foley Fischer designed multi-use development, comprises in addition to the restaurants, 108 flats, eight speciality shops and an archaeological park. The project is built on the site of the inner and outer bailey of Bedford Castle and within the curtiledge of a Scheduled Ancient Monument, with six months of archeology preceding the construction works.

Visit the Bedford Riverside Grill Website

New Forum for the Royal Academy of Engineering starts on site

Work has begun to remodel and refurbish Nos 3 and 4 Carlton House Terrace, London, (Listed Grade I) to form the new Forum for the Royal Academy of Engineering, designed by Burrell Foley Fischer LLP.

The forum will create an invigorating venue, bringing world-class engineers together from round the world and fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise.  The venue will include new lecture and conference facilities, exhibition areas and upgraded accommodation for Fellows, visitors and staff.  The new forum will open in April 2012.

The Princess Royal officially opens the Headquarters of the Academy of Medical Sciences

The Princess Royal today officially opened the first headquarters of the Academy of Medical Sciences at 41 Portland Place.  Burrell Foley Fischer's refurbishment of the John Adams townhouse provides a platform for Academy activities and includes Academy workspace, meeting rooms, a dedicated room for Fellows, space for small public exhibitions and functions rooms with capacity to host outreach events, receptions, dinners and public engagement activities.

See more photos of 41 Portland Place in our previous post