The Westworks: extending the life of a building

The Westworks – the latest building at White City Place to be re-imagined by Allies and Morrison opens its doors this month. Originally designed by Scott Brownrigg Turner in the late 1980s as the BBC’s administrative headquarters, and now acquired by developers Stanhope and Mitsui Fudosan, The Westworks has been given a new life delivering more than 300,000 square feet of new flexible accommodation. A series of interventions have improved the functionality of the building, increase lettable space and given it an overall aesthetic uplift. The main entrance has been moved to the centre of the west elevation and opening up new routes within and beyond.

Externally, The Westworks is still recognisable from its previous life, but new interventions include a cleaning of the existing silver-coloured aluminium cladding, the replacement of dark glazing to allow views into and through the building. At ground level, the existing cladding was sliced away and retail units clad in dark aluminium were inserted, creating a new ‘base layer’ to the south and west elevations. There is a refreshed central courtyard with a fully-glazed elevation to the reception below and an extended first floor terrace featuring a new cafe pavilion. At high level, a double-height glazed extension has created new floor space from existing balconies.

Internally, a complete strip-out has opened up new workspaces that have an elemental, engineered aesthetic, which benefit from greatly increased ceiling heights and levels of daylight. Communal sharing spaces, a new cafe, lounge and terrace spaces have been designed to facilitate interesting collaborations and relationships between the multiple tenants. There is a sequence of circulation spaces and more intimate areas for gatherings, all brought together through a palette of robust materials including monolithic concrete and oak board. The Studio, a new venue and recording facility finished entirely in blue, is designed to host a programme of public talks and events that will provide a cultural amenity to the estate and wider area. A large window from the reception looks into the venue, inviting passersby to stop and see what’s going on. The now much more porous nature of the lobbies in both The Westworks and its sibling building, The Mediaworks, creates a series of linked internal and external spaces brought together in the central boulevard that runs between.

Both outside and inside, the project has illustrated a commitment to re-examining existing buildings, regardless of the era they are from by finding ways to extend their lives by creative intervention, adaption and sustainable re-use.