W Hotel, London

The redevelopment of the former Swiss Centre site has restored key strategic views across the city that have been hidden for years until now, providing visitors with outlooks over the capital that stretch all the way from Parliament Hill in North West London to the Houses of Parliament.

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 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 locale.

 

Light fittings set into the outer main wall are loaded with hundreds of energyefficient 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 concept behind this panoramic vision of London harks back to the artistic heritage of Leicester Square, recalling James Wyld’s celebrated ‘Great Globe’ that was situated in the square between 1851 and 1862. Whilst Wyld’s hollow globe allowed visitors inside to view an internalised image of the earth on its interior surface, W London displays an external portrayal of the changing urban vista, in a dazzling light rendition of contemporary life.

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