The Believe in Better building is the tallest commercial timber structure in the UK and was designed and constructed in less than one year.  A close partnership with designer, client, contractor and trades, has delivered a unique workplace built in half the normal time.

The building was conceived as a home for Sky’s Believe in Better schools outreach programme and Academy training programme for apprentices and provides an inspiring, showcase and public face to Sky as well as an inviting multi-functional amenity for the staff and visitors to Sky to use. The building programme combines accommodation for visiting school children at ground level with offices, staff training facilities and a restaurant on the three stories above. The children can easily be separate and secure from the other building users and have direct access to the nearby studio building in which they make their own movie clips under supervision of Sky staff, taking on roles of directors, news-readers, audio and visual technicians, editorial staff and anything else associated with making TV programmes.

The ‘Sky Academy’ is a unique and ground-breaking set of initiatives that uses the power of television, creativity and sport to inspire young people and help them reach their potential. Sky Academy will help Sky to make the most of their strengths in media and technology as well as the passion and expertise of their people. And it will link up with schools and other organisations, working with inspirational role models from the world of TV, sport and the arts.

Flexibility is one of the keys to the project’s success. It is designed to be intuitive, with a simple understanding of way finding and building function as well as providing a wealth of extremely flexible spaces to respond to the varied and changing needs of the Sky users.

Part of the brief was that the spaces should be adaptable over the long-term and none of the main spaces were conceived with fixed uses in mind: partitions slide and unfold to interconnect a shifting landscape of creative thinking rooms and party spaces alternating as venues for buzz groups, breakout, clusters, mingling, informal meeting and school party role playing. A large, open-plan, column free space on the second floor for has been provided to accommodate large meetings and gatherings. The room partitions are therefore designed to achieve enhanced acoustic separation commensurate with the potential multi-media teaching in adjacent rooms in mind.

A sweeping, open staircase starts at ground and rises through the triple height atrium. At first and second floors the stair width is increased to incorporate breakout spaces, and provides not only circulation, and visual communication across the floors and out to the plaza, but creates the social and interactive focus of building.

As well as creating a super-flexible workspace for a fast-changing corporate culture, the design of the Believe in Better Building focuses on creating specific, holistic, integrated conditions for optimizing the health and well-being of the people in this building. It is the first building in the UK to be designed in accordance with the emerging Wellness Certification principles. The key principles of which are quality day-lighting, air quality, natural material selection, and great design. The team also specified materials that have low or no VOC content to avoid off-gassing problems. The extensive use of natural wood, internal and external greening provides human delight, celebration of SKY culture, and for human-nature interactions within the building.

Arup Associates were also the architects and engineers for the award winning Sky Studios Building on the same campus.



Structural Timber Awards, Winner Architect of the Year; Best Education Project; Best Commercial Project; Low Energy Building of the Year; and Winner of Winners
IStructE, Commendation, Commercial or Retail Structures
Institution of Civil Engineers Award Winner
WAN Wood in Architecture
Awards, Winner
Wood Awards, Winner of the Judges’ Special Award