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Scott Brownrigg talks to Future Cities Forum about new TV studio for Thames Valley Science Park

The UK government has been encouraging the growth of the creative industries and headlines are starting to pop up on new developments of film and tv studios around the UK.

Only this week, there was an announcement of Hollywood investment in new film studios in Hertfordshire. Now Scott Brownrigg has announced that planning permission has been granted for new TV facilities at the Thames Valley Science Park.

The new purpose-built TV studio located at the Thames Valley Science Park in Shinfield has been unanimously approved by Wokingham Borough Council on behalf of the University of Reading. It follows the University's announcement in December 2020 of a deal with a US film studios investor to develop a major film studio.

Scott Brownrigg has been tasked with envisioning the masterplan and architecture of this new complex. With the Univerisity's vision to create a new 'Cine Valley'. the development forms part of Thames Valley Science Park, with the TV studio element aiming to be operational in 2022.

It will host a range of popular TV shows and is being built to accommodate the latest broadcast and media technology. The development will uphold values of environmental sustainability, supporting the University's aim to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Future Cities Forum spoke to Jason Lebidineuse, Director at Scott Brownrigg about the value of the project from a sustainability perspective and for the circular economy:

'British film making has always been seen as an elite part of the creative industries and the UK government has put in tax breaks for investors. We have seen the rise of Amazon, Netflix and Apple TV and the demand for that, which the pandemic has accelerated with the watching of binge-worthy series. It is how we view content now rather than staying tuned to terrestrial TV. Cinema releases are coming out at the same time as they are being streamed and with the advancements in technology and post production, the need for studio space has intensified.

'The US investor wanted to create a sense of place, so everyone could say this is Shinfield Studios and Reading University already had a vision for 'cine valley', with their history of media studies courses. We engaged with the community and soon we had everyone driving a single vision with social value and sustainability at the core of the project. Traditionally the film industry has been very wasteful and not leading on the circular economy, but this project is changing that with how a 'throughout route' from schools to university to jobs can be created.

'The studios are essentially boxes but in themselves are very sustainable and will be carefully nestled into the landscape which is being enhanced. The studios are linked to the community on the office side at the front of the development. We are using timber to build the offices and the studios are flexible in that they can be put up and taken down in a year, although they have a lifespan - if necessary - of 25 years.

'Both on the temporary and permanent sites of the development, we are looking that the sustainability factor of how buildings can be installed, dismantled and then re-cycled. Filming will take place at different times through the day, so the traffic levels are spread compared to usage on a science park, for instance. Gateway One on the site was designed as a lab building but can now be taken by the production teams and it is important in our work to constantly think about how we can re-imagine buildings rather than lose them altogether.'

The project should be complete by this October 2021 and Future Cities Forum will be following the story of film studio creation in its 'Cultural Cities' series this year.


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