Big Brother is Watching You | Striptease in wood and glass
The realisation of this Big Brother House and television studio was a thorough exercise in reconciliation. How to make architecture in a TV world, highly dominated by commercial interests? How do you bring together openness and transparency in a design with the minimum need of the residents own space without forgetting the viewer and his curiosity? Finally how do you create an interior, as criticism of the consumer society, that after a brief life on screen is capable of a sustainable follow-on?
The solution was to create a bigger complex than initially was planned, which can be converted easily without much modification into a television studio. The practical requirements for the design didn’t make it easier. Not only was there an ambitious building program, also the house and studio had to be ready and operational in six months time. The often conflicting interests of sponsors made the task even more difficult for the architects.
The basic structure of the Big Brother house includes an interior part around which technical corridors where cameras are 24h free to register. It was conceived as a unique open space structures for the benefit of the flexibility and the subsequent conversion of the building. A sustainable use for the building which is planted on the visual end point of passage resulted in the facade with additional details. A framework, covered with cedar slats form the formal consistency and cover the adjacent technical buildings. Planes in black plywood further accentuate the entrance area and the program logo. All outdoor spaces (also the inner spaces which were used by the big brother inhabitants as it were outdoor spaces) were treated in the same way to make the distinction for the viewer between inside and out as clearly as possible.
Since the concept of the television program is based on an almost complete negation of the privacy of the participants, the design endeavoured to exploit these principles. The privacy was not only seen to the outside world but also within the house. The residents can be seen on several sides together by looking through the large mirror surfaces, everyone in the house can be located any time. All the rooms flow into each other or are visually connected by glass. The showers, executed on all sides in clear glass, are visible from the living room and from the garden. From the garden one can see the kitchen throughout the shower. Other visual axes are created from the bedroom through the living room to the garden, one can also have an unobstructed view from the entrance through a courtyard in the bedroom. Because the interior objects (kitchen and bathroom, sauna, pool and fireplace) are lined to each another, they are visually connected and create unity, depth and perspective effects in the house. The simple design and subtle colours accentuate what is important and not what is necessary for structural, technical or safety reasons.
i.c.w. Sven van Loon