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A@W Newsletter

Winter wonders

30 November 2021

As the nights draw in, architects and designers have been making the most of the dark skies with some spectacular lighting installations from window displays to illuminated gardens.


Written by Helen Parton



Squire and Partners’ Department Store headquarters is adorned with 3D lights based on designs by local schoolchildren.
© Gareth Gardner 



As we head towards the start of winter, it’s a chance to shine a spotlight on the architecture and design’s communities’ involvement in some stunning lighting displays.


This is the fifth year architects Squire & Partners, based in Brixton, south London, has been partnering with local young people on its Winter Windows project. This year, an illuminated window installation by Year 6 students from Reay Primary School, graces the practice’s Department Store studio. During workshops, students were challenged to create interactive shapes associated with ‘Dreamland’ with the final eight designs including a jellyfish, a vampire and an eye-shaped dream catcher. Squire and Partners’ modelshop team then made 3D lights  by weaving 360 LED Neon Flex through a wire mesh frame.



The Spheric installation at Kew Gardens features a dome of light covered in 2000 LEDs.
© Richard Haughton 



Kew Gardens in south west London has long been a popular destination for its stunning lighting displays and this winter is no exception. New shows will light the Temperate and Palm Houses, which both date back to the 1800s while video design studio Novak will create a piece that brings botanical illustrations from Kew’s archive to life. Meanwhile creative house Mandylights will unveil Spheric, a  fifteen-metre-wide dome of light covered in over 2,000 individually controlled LED pixels which sits on a reflective water pool and is set to a synchronised music track.



The illuminated trail at the London Wetland Centre feature a series of light features including responsive lily pads.
© the London Wetland Centre



A few miles down the road at the London Wetland Centre in Barnes, a new illuminated trail opens. Entitled Illuminature and realised in partnership with lighting experience specialists Lumagica and MK Experience it features 214 different elements within the 105-acre reserve. These include giant light sculptures of wetland wildlife, interspersed with magical, playful installations plus  light tunnels and responsive lily pads.


And outside of London, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Gardens in will form part of Glow, a mix of colourful tree canopies, decorated shrubbery and glittering water features across its sites in Salford, Greater Manchester, arrogate, North Yorkshire, Essex, Devon and Woking in Surrey.



Masterplanners FreeState has worked with artist Chris Levine on a lighting installation including this centrepiece called Molecule of Light.
© Michael Fung



At Houghton Hall in Norfolk, experience masterplanners FreeState has worked with British artist Chris Levine on a series of new holographic artworks, print works and large immersive laser and LED installations created specifically for the unique environs of this stately home and grounds. FreeState founder Adam Scott, who is also speaking at Architect@Work in London, has been working closely with Levine to make this a one-off experience using light and sound in a completely immersive way. The centrepiece of the show, 528 Hz Love Frequency, is called Molecule of Light. The audience, one at a time, can immerse in modulating sound frequencies that correlate to the site’s geometry and the human body’s chakras.


Despite the lowering temperatures, architects and designers are giving the general public the perfect excuse to wrap up and explore what’s possible with lighting and a creative vision.

Winter wonders
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