Innovation for the BBC

The development of what will be one of the most technologically advanced broadcasting centres in the world includes a bespoke and highly innovative power distribution system from Marshall-Tufflex.

The BBC is nearing completion of a massive project to redevelop and extend Broadcasting House in central London. Once finished, the building will house 5,000 people, delivering news nationally and globally as well as national radio and music services. As part of this scheme, a new extension has been added to the iconic building and it is here that the Marshall-Tufflex power distribution system is being utilised.

“The BBC project is interesting because it has two crucial requirements that need to be met,” said Chris Scott, Product Manager for Marshall-Tufflex. “Firstly, as with all contracts, it is highly time-sensitive and power installation work has to be carried out as quickly as possible. Secondly, we had to ensure that the new system was compatible with one we’d already installed in the original Broadcasting House as part of the shift to digital broadcasting. Continuity across sites was vital and our ability to design and customise a uniform solution that supplies all physical power feeds was a critical advantage.”

The bespoke solution designed and pre-fabricated at Marshall-Tufflex’s manufacturing base in Sussex centres around its revolutionary MT32 power distribution system, a fast-track plug and play power connection method that has eliminated hard-wiring on site at the BBC and permitted much faster installation times for electrical contracting services company Phoenix Electrical. Design and build contractor was Bovis Lend Lease.

Designed by Marshall-Tufflex, the modular power distribution system is delivered to site in cable management bays complete with prewired cable sets marked with circuitry ready to feed into distribution boards. It follows the manufacturer’s development of a bespoke modular power distribution system installed during the modernisation and digital upgrade of Broadcasting House.

The Marshall-Tufflex system has gone into the initial fit-out of the Central Apparatus Area (CAA) and Local Apparatus Rooms throughout the new 12-storey building, including three basement levels. As Marshall-Tufflex product is fitted throughout the building, the company has now supplied further bespoke units for additional Local Apparatus Rooms in the extension, which also includes radio and TV studios, editing suites and offices.

According to Ivan Phelps, Operations Director of electrical contractor Phoenix Electrical: “The initial Central Apparatus Area (CAA) alone has required 81,000 metres of power cabling, 2,000 sockets and 32 pre-wired units contained within 513 bays supplied by Marshall- Tufflex. A further 322 bay’ are being installed throughout the building. The supply of cable sets pre-wired and ready to attach to the mains has made life a lot easier and fitting far quicker.”

The above ceiling height bays are constructed from a combination of Marshall-Tufflex’s PVC-U Maxi Trunking and Mono 10 with specialised Cee-Norm sockets. The complexity of the vast amounts of circuitry has necessitated the building of extra large containment units with the necessary headroom – some as much as 18 metres long with a 150mm x 150mm high containment capacity. A large number of sockets and cables in relatively short spaces have also been addressed by the cable management solution.

The refurbishment and expansion programme will create one of the largest live newsrooms in the world, using the latest broadcast technology.

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