BFI Mediatheque – London, UK

2016 – Competition

Shortlisted competition entry for the British Film Institute to re-design it’s Mediatheque, a reference facility, which provides free public access to the BFI’s extensive film and TV collections on London’s Southbank.

The Mediatheque occupies a prominent place next to the booking desk but it’s location behind a screen and a sliding glass door made it appear exclusive and remote, with visitors not necessarily aware of the space and its purpose. We proposed to resolve the Mediatheque’s problems of accessibility and perception by removing the glass screen and door to open up the space. We created a direct flow from the main lobby area with furniture that flowed into the Mediateque and a large door-like screen that could be deployed to change the space around it and disseminate diverse modes of use.

The brief identified three main user groups: Researchers, Film enthusiasts and Drop-ins, and from these profile descriptions we created an environment that could be more or less immersive depending on the type of experience visitors were after. For instance, we designed enclosed pods for researchers that would be looking for a focused and deep engagement, which would require an environment that enables concentration, akin to a work-station. We proposed a range of screens sizes for film enthusiasts or small groups that may me looking for an equally involved engagement but in a more relaxed environment where they are more likely to share the experience with other people. A large projected screen also offered a casual engagement for a shorter time by ‘drop-ins’, happy to be aware of other activities happening at the venue. 

Our design improved the Mediateque’s connection to the surrounding facilities, and created a fun less corporate place which could deliver a specialist service for all three user groups to feel confident, to be curious, enter, linger and engage with the BFI digital collection.