BBC creates new feature for London skyline
Approval granted for major light sculpture by
Jaume Plensa on BBC Broadcasting House
Sculpture to be memorial to news journalists around the world
who have lost their lives
Sculpture to project light beam 900 metres (3,000 feet) into
The BBC is to create a major new feature on the London
skyline at BBC Broadcasting House with the approval by Westminster
City Council of a new public art commission Breathing
- by the internationally renowned Spanish artist Jaume Plensa.
The light sculpture, to be positioned above the new
BBC Broadcasting House complex designed by MacCormac Jamieson Prichard,
will be a memorial to news journalists and crew around the world who
have lost their lives in the course of their work, both BBC and non-BBC.
Breathing will be inaugurated in 2005 and is part of
the major public art programme associated with the Broadcasting House
The sculpture is called Breathing because it is inspired
by the breath of life of the building and all who work in it.
John Smith, BBC Director of Property, Finance and Business
Affairs, said: "I'm delighted that the BBC has been given the go-ahead
for this exceptional piece of public art which I hope will become a
landmark on the London skyline."
Breathing comprises a 10 metre high (33 feet) inverted
glass spire, etched with a poem (wording to be decided), rising from
the fifth floor roof of the new Broadcasting House buildings.
During the hours of darkness the cone will be lit so
that it glows and at key times a fine beam of light will project from
its base approximately 900 metres (3,000 feet) into the night sky (the
limit set by the Civil Aviation Authority).
At street level the words of the poem will be accessible
in text and Braille and there will also be a complementary audio work
by Plensa and a relief version of the sculpture.
As well as a memorial to international news journalists,
Breathing is also metaphor for sound and communication and takes its
inspiration from the adjoining spire of the Grade I listed All Souls
Church (which it appears to invert) and the radio mast on the roof of
the Grade II* listed Broadcasting House.
The final form of Breathing is the result of a dialogue
between the artist Jaume Plensa, the architect Sir Richard MacCormac
and his team, and the curator of the Broadcasting House public art programme,
art consultants Modus Operandi.
The proposed glass and steel construction of the sculpture
has evolved through close collaboration between the artist, the architects
and the engineers Whitby Bird & Partners.
The planning application was submitted by Nathaniel
Lichfield & Partners and received widespread support from the art
world and unanimous approval from members of Westminster Councils
Planning and City Development Committee.
Notes to Editors
Jaume Plensa: biography
Jaume Plensa was born in Barcelona in 1955.
His work has been exhibited in some of the world's best
contemporary art institutions including the Jeu de Paume in Paris, the
Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona,
the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid and Baltic in Gateshead.
He works in a wide range of media including drawing,
sculpture, printmaking, opera scenery, video art, acoustic installations,
text and light.
He is currently working on a major public art commission
for the city of Chicago.
BBC public art initiative
The redevelopment of Broadcasting House is the flagship project in an
ambitious development programme for BBC property across the UK, which
also includes major new buildings at White City (London), Birmingham
Public art is at the heart of the BBC's new buildings,
continuing the BBC's long tradition as a patron of the arts.
Since 2002-2003 a number of artists have been invited
to respond to the changing environment in and around Broadcasting House.
As well as temporary artworks created by Fiona Rae and
William Furlong, videos have been made by Catherine Yass, Tom Gidley
and Brian Catling, photographers Nick Danziger and John Riddy have documented
people and architectural changes, and sculptor Rachel Whiteread created
a plaster cast of Room 101, the inspiration for the notorious room in
George Orwell's novel 1984.
The finished piece, Untitled (Room 101), is currently
on show at the V&A.
The permanent commissions programme also includes World,
a new artist-designed public space by Mark Pimlott, and a lighting commission
for All Souls Church and Broadcasting House by Martin Richman and Tony
Ron Haselden has also been commissioned for Close-up:
a BBC People Archive.