The story of Breakfast Television Centre, Hawley Crescent, Camden Lock, London NW1
Award winning architect Sir Terry Farrell was commissioned by TV-am to design Breakfast Television Centre.
In March 1981 a site was found – a 93,418 square foot, 1920s Henly’s garage – located between Hawley Crescent and the Grand Union Canal in Camden Town, North London. Renovation began in August 1981.
From Hawley Crescent, the TV-am building was easily identifiable with its large T, V, A, M letters sticking out of the wall, and large sunrise archway over the entrance into the forecourt.
Farrell designed the atrium in keeping with the station’s early morning transmission times, portraying the sun’s travels from East to West, country by country, across the globe.
The Japanese Pavillion – TV-am’s Green Room where guests are invited before going on to the show – represented the East. Moving westwards, the huge staircase (called the wedding cake by some staff), depicts images of the Middle East and is also seen as an island surrounded in blue with boat-like gangways (the stairs) to the upper shores. The journey continues through temple like forms and arcadian landscapes of the Mediterranean and Greece, ending in desert plants, which form the North American West.
TV-am’s two studios and technical areas led off from the Japanese Pavillion. Studio A, 3000 square feet, was home to the Good Morning Britain set. Studio B, 800 square feet, was where the TV-am news desk and smaller Good Morning Britain set were located.
The offices, open-plan, are situated on the first floor. The newsroom, above the Japanese Pavillion, seen as the focal point – a semi circle of visual display units and computer terminals that linked TV-am to worldwide news agencies. The crowning glory must surely be the 12 enormous eggcups (a dozen eggs) on the roof, seen from the canal. They caused the building to become affectionately known as ‘eggcup house’.
In 1993 the TV-am building was sold to MTV Europe. Much of the interior has been redesigned, but the eggcups remain! The first real example of post modern architecture in Britain, Terry Farrell’s TV-am building won a Civic Trust Award in 1985. Below, a leaflet from builders Wiltshier details the construction process of Breakfast Television Centre: