A new headquarters for the digital age

Nestled next to Leeds station in the centre of the vibrant Yorkshire city is The Majestic, an historical local landmark that has been transformed into a commercial and innovation hub fit for the digital age.

Project partners

  • CBRE
  • MCM Architecture

Project description

The Majestic is home to Channel 4’s national headquarters, housing its highly creative digital operation which produces material and content for distribution across its platforms, including online and social media.

Channel 4 was arguably destined to select the Majestic as its new home. The building initially operated as a 2,400-seater cinema when it opened a century ago. The rejuvenated site represents a new chapter for the broadcaster, underpinned by its commitment to innovate and commission compelling content for its audiences both in the UK and around the world. With a significant presence in London, Channel 4 selected Leeds with the aim of tapping into the city’s young, diverse talent and healthy creative digital sector, having been backed by the local council which offered its hand as a collaborative entity.

Providing full transparency

Channel 4 needed the office fit out to provide maximum quality for maximum value. Communication was deemed critical. Be it the management of logistics and informing of various stakeholders or direct lines of communication between Channel 4 and Overbury, transparency throughout all parts of the value chain was vitally important. Here, Overbury took pride in going the extra mile. Where we’d previously worked with Channel 4, we developed a lessons learned initiative that would improve processes and outcomes with The Majestic. We also leveraged technology to keep London-based stakeholders who were unable to visit the site in the loop at every stage, using video calls and high-definition videos showing mock-up designs.

We also worked closely with Leeds council, best demonstrated in the project crane lift. In keeping the landlord team, council, adjacent buildings, general public and a variety of other stakeholders happy, we successfully and efficiently conducted a complex crane lift at 3am on a quiet Sunday morning, for example. Through such endeavours, Overbury and Channel 4 were able to successfully prioritise community care throughout the project. Indeed, close cooperation was the core pillar of our relationship.

A majestic office space

Spanning the top three of The Majestic’s five floors, Channel 4’s office fit out was a formidable and highly rewarding undertaking. The client wanted a ‘buzz’ around the building. While focus rooms and individual workspaces were needed, much of the emphasis was on creating a collaborative workspace – something that came to fruition through the expansive, open plan nature of the fit out. The top floor houses a dedicated conferencing and events area, comprising high-end meeting rooms, the Channel 4 reception and a breakout/bar space. The third and fourth floors, meanwhile, feature desks, focus pods and other elements you’d typically find in a modern, quality office.

Acoustic attention

Given Channel 4’s open-plan preferences, acoustics were critically important.

As Channel 4 sought a minimalistic layout, the fit out was modern yet restrained. However, to therefore prevent any form of echo within the building, cutting-edge acoustic spray was used that stifles sound transfer wherever possible.

Attenuation considerations and reverberation management were also at the forefront of the fit out, ensuring that echoes are eliminated in spite of the open plan nature of the project.

Maximising quality

High quality finishes were delivered that were both on trend and futureproof. Herringbone timber is used throughout, while detailed concrete screed that leveraged multiple layers was also deployed, allowing for the installation of one seamless block of material that equally connected to the timber fixtures with no joints or gaps. Internal and external critique was invited throughout, ensuring incremental improvements could be made immediately, not retrospectively.

Sharing high-definition video of mock-ups with remote stakeholders to convey how we saw key design elements coming together was a vital part of this process. In keeping lines of communication so open and honest, Channel 4 was provided with a new national HQ that has been tailored to their specific requirements. Furthermore, with high quality, detailed finishes and a considered use of materials, the fit out also achieved a SKA Gold sustainability rating.

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