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Technology trends – illuminated facade at W London hotel

The glamorous W London in London’s Leicester Square has become the biggest electronic artwork in the capital with a little help from Barco.

The glamorous W London in London’s Leicester Square has become the biggest electronic artwork in the capital with a little help from Barco.

Developed by McAleer & Rushe, the new 192-bedroom luxury ten-storey W London hotel also houses retail, leisure and residential accommodation spread over 200,000 sq ft, including a spa, 11 penthouse apartments and a new 35,000 sq ft retail-leisure experience provided by a leading global brand.

Jestico + Whiles’ design allows for the façade of the building to function like a vast pixellated screen – the first of its kind in the UK – capable of projecting dynamic light installations in an exciting new collaboration between contemporary architecture and art. This striking visual effect is achieved by a sophisticated ceramic frit applied to the optically corrected glass of the building’s outer skin, allowing it to ‘hold’ and project the light, without obstructing views outwards from the guestroom windows. The façade of the hotel has been wrapped in a second skin of frameless glazing, which is suspended from the face of the building like a floating sheer veil and etched with an undulating, abstract pattern, reminiscent of the folds in a theatre curtain and evoking the cinematic legacy of the [email protected][email protected]

The opening commission was designed by well-known London based electronic artist Jason Bruges, who prepared a conceptual interpretation of the changing light dynamics in Leicester Square across the preceding 24 hours. The installation works by translating video footage captured by hidden cameras mounted on the roof-space of the building, which is converted using time lapse photography into short performances and streamed at regular intervals onto the veil during the hours of darkness.

The performances will be unique with every visit, automatically responding to seasonal change and special events around the building, such as film festivals, premieres and the Chinese New Year.

Light fittings set into the outer main wall are loaded with hundreds of energy-efficient Barco lights, which afford movie quality colour mixing and rendering to provide an infinite number of combinations and effects. The light intensity and colour saturation of the veil are controlled by a sophisticated interface from within the hotel, allowing the presence of the building to alter as day turns to night. During the day, W London is calm, cool and restrained – whilst by night, the glass veil becomes an animation of glowing light and possibly the biggest electronic artwork in London.

The building won the ‘Special tribute to UK Country of Honour’ at the International MIPIM awards in Cannes.