LIVE VIEWS SELL THE SHARD TO AL JAZEERA
Anil Chaman, Manager of Technology for Europe at Al Jazeera, on the news network's move to The Shard.
"At Al Jazeera, we provide an impartial international news service to a world audience, offering a completely different perspective on world events to everyone else. We specialise in in-depth analysis, addressing stories not just when a story is current, but revisiting them for a rounded view.
"We began looking to move offices three years ago when we were starting to outgrow our premises in Knightsbridge. We wanted somewhere that could house both Al Jazeera English and the UK-based Arabic teams, bringing them together under the name of the Al Jazeera Network offices. We also needed space that would support the advanced technology we use as the network unifies all the channel streams.
“THE REACTION TO OUR MOVE HERE HAS BEEN EXTREMELY POSITIVE, BOTH FROM STAFF AND VISITORS - EVERYONE WANTS TO COME AND SEE US HERE. ”
"The Shard didn't really come onto our radar until we were temporarily based in Stratford covering the Olympics. From that elevated position, it was hard to miss and we were sold! We did a lot of research, deploying time-lapse cameras to decide which level was best for perspective. We also used them to ensure that our studios were not located directly in the sun. We took our time, and decided that Level 16 was for us.
"We moved here over the summer, in a slow gradual process to allow continuity. There are now 180 people in the office. The Shard is a brilliant base, not only because of its height but also because of the fantastic shots it gives you across London. We've set up all our studios so that we can capitalise on the beautiful landscape, both day and night, when we're filming.
"Our first broadcast from The Shard went out at the beginning of November; from a state-of-the-art newsroom, sat atop Western Europe's tallest building. The new centre has been designed so that it is capable of running an entire channel independently from all the other hubs, making it our most technologically advanced yet. The first programme went out seamlessly and incorporated the backdrop of London's glittering skyline, which only a view like the one from The Shard can provide.
"We broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We have to - the news today is immediate as anyone, anywhere with a mobile or tablet can report it. London Bridge seems to be turning into something of a media hub as around about the time we were doing our fit out, News International moved their entire operation here. It only takes a few big names to transform an area's identity. We've sown the seed.
"The reaction to our move here has been extremely positive, both from staff and visitors - everyone wants to come and see us here. As a landmark building, people don't necessarily associate The Shard with TV broadcasting but our base here is one of the most important of our offices and just shows the possibilities for the building. The Shard was our first office with live view capabilities, and I think the results have been pretty spectacular. It's given us confidence to approach other projects with a bit more of an open mind."