The vintage-inspired workspace mirrors the spirit of the team behind popular comedies like Trying, Good Omens, and A Whole Lifetime with Jamie Demetriou

BBC Studios Comedy Productions has relocated to new premises in Soho’s Chinatown, requiring extensive remodelling of an historic building to provide a modern workplace.

Designed by HOK’s London Interiors team, the 4,000 sq ft workspace is located at The Dryden, 45 Gerrard Street, which was once the home of England’s first poet laureate, John Dryden. The historic fabric has been restored to create a modern Grade A workspace while retaining existing features.

Through the use of pre-loved, individually sourced mid-century furniture and period Crittall windows, HOK has sought to bring a domestic quality to the workplace, while also evoking the ambience of a private members club. A ‘found’ quality is created through the exposure of the unfinished base-build walls, which reveal the building’s history.

The project comprises two floors spanning two adjacent buildings, with minimal opportunity to modify the base-build. Therefore, matching modifications with the existing fabric was imperative to ensure a fully accessible space with level changes across the two buildings.

Although the project’s overall footprint was constrained, the design team sought to offer the client a wide range of different spaces. First-floor areas provide client-facing creative spaces: a large conference room opens up its folding Crittall partition to the wider floor, providing a space for events and functions. There are also lounge-style meeting/writing spaces with dedicated writing desks and a variety of settings in the hope of encouraging open collaboration.

Through the use of pre-loved, individually sourced mid-century furniture and period Crittall windows, HOK has brought a feeling of home to the workplace

The second floors of both buildings focus primarily on desk-based working, while offering a range of meeting spaces and focus booths. This ensures that the space is activated for both work and social interactions throughout the day.

The spaces are accessorised with BBC Comedy artwork, memorabilia and awards dating from the mid-to late-20th century, which comprises a veritable time capsule of BBC programmes and personalities.

The project presented the design team with a variety of challenges. Access to the building had to be improved, and all furniture has been selected and specified to optimise accessibility. Noise pollution from the street also posed a problem: this was mitigated by the installation of a secondary glazing system that sits behind the period Crittall windows.

According to the team, much mid-century furniture does not meet today’s more stringent fire regulations; therefore, close attention was required in choosing pieces, and many items underwent re-upholstery to ensure their safety for use.

Luke Henry-Powell, interior designer at HOK, commented: “The design aligns with BBC Studios Comedy Productions’ aim to create a best-in-class workspace to attract and retain top-level creative talent, enabling them to self-actualise. In the traditional sense, it is less a corporate office than a collaboration hub where the country’s leading writers, performers and producers generate new entertainment ideas for global television and streaming.”

Project details

Lead designer HOK
Glazed partition system IWall
Blinds Waverley
Furniture Pamono, Vinterior (sourced via inform-solutions)
Upholstery Toptextil, Elastron
Acoustic work pods Orangebox
Wall paint finishes Dulux
Custom rug floor finishes Knotistry