The relocation of the BFI library to London’s Southbank gave the BFI the opportunity to rethink its existing HQ at Stephen Street and create a new vibrant and welcoming space for film lovers to enjoy.
Our brief was to transform this 1960s building to reflect the BFI’s desire for more transparency, visibility and public engagement; improving facilities for its own members, connectivity with the street and access for the wider public. A new foyer space is envisaged as a hotel lobby: a glamorous and flexible ‘film set’ acting as backdrop for the activities of the industry itself, where staff, visitors, funders and film-makers can meet and talk informally away from the pressures of the editing suite.
The building is stripped back to expose the existing concrete structure and high ceilings, as a simple backdrop to the new interventions. Internal partitions have been removed to create a raw and bold interior with high levels of daylighting. Working with Softroom Architects, the internal layout of the ground floor and café space have been designed using glass partitions to give a more intimate, club-like feel.
Facilities include two basement screening rooms, meeting spaces, conference rooms and a lounge that can be adapted for a wide range of public events. A landscaped terrace space to the rear of the building creates a new social space in a previously neglected part of the site.
The design interventions aim to foster creativity and improve the understanding and profile of British film-making, with a new informal space which encourages new ways of working with the organisation.