This boldly-coloured zigzagged interior of the University of London‘s Birkbeck Centre for Film and Visual Media has been realised by the British practice Surface Architects. The centre, which was completed in 2007, is located in the heart of the UK’s capital, within a Grade II listed terrace once occupied by Virginia Woolf & the Bloomsbury Group. The restructured into a two-storey volume building now encompasses a digital cinema auditorium with projection room, a seminar room, new office spaces, a viewing suite as well as an open area destined for informal meetings and social activity.
From the architects:
‘The Centre is a unique research facility within the School of History of Art, Film and Visual Media. The project’s chief objective was to provide the Centre with a range of purpose-designed accommodation that will enable it to expand its activities, recruit additional staff and ensure its long-term future.
‘We wanted to create an emotive, thought provoking place for the study of Film and Visual Media. We intended the project to transform a utilitarian extension building into a vibrant new environment, a feast for the senses.’
‘The auditorium is a tapering black volume at the heart of the project. Around this is the richly diverse break-out and circulation space. This space can been seen to have an ‘other–world’ quality of complex form, colour, light and texture. From this environment, occasional glimpses are offered to the familiar context of London’s Bloomsbury. Numerous connections are made to the original terrace that has been simply refurbished with a grey-scale palette to provide further teaching and office space.’
‘Conceptually, the break-out circulation space is created by a ‘cutting block’ that tumbles through the ‘solid mass’ of the extension, morphing into different configurations. This movement is frozen at particular points in time like a stop frame animation. It creates a 3D cutting pattern that carves out the space and leaves a reciprocal imprint on the space. The material characteristics change as the shape changes, giving a variety of colour, texture and reflection.’