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The creative vision

The British Academy has embarked on a transformative journey with the creation of three adaptive event rooms, woven into the Grade I-listed historic fabric of 10-11 Carlton House Terrace. As architects, we embraced flexibility in conceiving of the new spaces which are designed, in turn, to afford flexibility to the Academy; they ensure a diverse range of programmes can easily be hosted.

The spaces feature double-height ceilings and ample natural light that enhance the lower floors' usability. We see them as dynamic studio spaces, complete with accessible floors, truss points, and lighting bars, providing a versatile setting for a variety of events.

The architectural layout ensures a seamless flow between the rooms, allowing them to function either as a single, expansive area or as three acoustically separate spaces. This flexibility is a cornerstone of the design, making the rooms ideal for hosting anything from small group workshops to large, hybrid conferences. New and old is a trademark of Wright & Wright’s practice. Here, the harmonious blend of heritage details and contemporary technology creates a dynamic environment that stimulates innovative presentations and enhances event experiences.

Integrating AV and hybrid technology for enhanced flexibility

Central to the flexibility of these new spaces is the integration of state-of-the-art AV technology. A central control room connects all three event spaces, providing the capability to record, broadcast, and manage programmes. Each room is equipped with a variety of AV options, including small and large format projections, large format LED screens, and digital signage. This infrastructure supports the growing demand for hybrid events, which combine in-person and virtual participation, thereby extending the reach and impact of the Academy’s work.

By situating these high-tech event rooms on the lower floors, the Academy maximizes the potential for technological integration, which is less feasible on the upper floors due to heritage preservation constraints. This strategic placement ensures that hybrid events can be conducted more effectively, offering an enhanced experience for both onsite and remote participants, further underscoring the flexibility of these spaces.

A greater reach: how flexible spaces connect wider audiences

The new event spaces set themselves apart from those on the upper floors by offering exceptional flexibility in terms of programme type and audience reach. They are well suited for showcasing video art, innovative research presentations, data visualizations, and performances. The British Academy’s vision, as articulated in its briefing, is to create opportunities for cross-disciplinary dialogue and idea exchange. The open and adaptable nature of these rooms supports this vision by fostering an inclusive and accessible environment that encourages interaction and engagement among diverse disciplines and media types.

Moreover, the integration of hybrid event technology enhances the Academy’s flexibility in reaching wider audiences. By producing digital content and facilitating hybrid events, the Academy can engage participants beyond its physical location, overcoming geographical barriers and enabling broader participation.

In conclusion, the transformation of the British Academy with these adaptive event rooms underscores our shared commitment to flexibility and innovation. By merging the aesthetic appeal of the past with the functionality of the latest technology, the spaces designed by Wright & Wright Architects offer a uniquely versatile environment that champions cross-pollination of ideas. This dynamic setting enriches the experience for attendees and broadens the Academy’s impact, fostering a spirit of inclusivity, engagement, and creative exploration.

Stephen Smith, Partner, Wright & Wright Architects

A forum for public convening and international exchange in the humanities, the future British Academy synthesizes new design into an iconic historic site.

Facade of the British Academy on Carlton House Terrace in London with view of sculpture atop column in the background.