Lighting the exterior of the Sofitel Hotel on Lower Regent Street was the culmination of twenty years of work for Tony Rimmer and his team at Studio 29. The lighting design studio was handed the vast task by the Crown Estate of developing a new lighting scheme for Regent Street and the St James’s Estate in Central London.
The Crown Estate wanted to create a homogeneous feeling between Regent Street and the newly renamed Lower Regent Street, which leads down from Piccadilly Circus past the Crimean Memorial and culminates at the Duke of York Column and The Mall.
Lower Regent Street was originally part of the main royal processional route through London, but the creation of The Mall, which leads towards Buckingham Palace, put the street in the shade, where it has remained ever since.
(Above) The Crown Estate wanted to create a homogeneous feeling between Regent Street and the newly renamed Lower Regent Street, which leads down from Piccadilly Circus past the Crimean Memorial.
The Sofitel is a Grade II listed neoclassical building, that was styled in the 1920s to be in keeping with John Nash’s original Regent Street development plan. The hotel sits in the former banking hall of Cox’s and King’s, overlooking Waterloo Place and The Athenaeum Club.
Studio 29's work on the building has been nominated in the 'Outdoor Lighting Project of the Year' category at this year's Lux Awards.
‘The main challenge that we faced when creating a lighting scheme for the building was that we were dealing with a working hotel, so our room to manoeuvre was limited,’ Tony Rimmer told Lux.
The primary objective of the team at Studio 29 was to illuminate the hotel facade in a way that was complimentary to the lighting master plan for Regent Street without causing glare within each bedroom.
(Above) The new fixtures were positioned on the outermost edge of each bedroom window, while the balustrading was used as natural shuttering on the first floor level.
Mock-ups proved very useful to the lighting designers in the early stages of the project as they could introduce the client to lighting fixtures, without having to disturb the running of the hotel.
Once the new luminaries were settled on, they were positioned on the outermost edge of each bedroom window. The linear wash lights at the first floor level were installed so as to take advantage of the balustrading, using it as a natural shuttering.
The balustrading created a shadow over each window, which stopped light from entering the bedrooms, but allowed light to illuminate the header of each window.
(Above) One of the main challenges that the lighting designers faced was developing a scheme for what is a very busy, working hotel.
‘LED luminaires are getting smaller and smaller, but the electrical connection box is often much bigger than the fixture, meaning that it is sometimes a difficult to task to disguise the boxes on the building’s façade,’ Rimmer added, when discussing the challenged faced by his team while working on the project.
After the success of the revived lighting on Regent Street, the design for Lower Regent Street had to maintain an equally grand tone, or risk demoting a beautifully crafted boulevard into an after-thought. The lighting design for the Sofitel ensures that Lower Regent Street makes the most of its regal style, prompting it to appear much more royal and refined than its much more famous brother.
Products used in the project
Meyer - Superlight Nano 1,2+3
ACDC - Nightvision floods
Osram - Powerflex LED tape
You can see a full list of the nominees for this year's Lux Awards here.