The design brought theatrical lighting into urban context. With the employment of state-of-the-art lighting control system, the balance between traditional static architectural lighting and dynamic theatrical lighting has just enhanced the visual silence of Quadrant Arcade,” Yu explained, “The integration of light artworks was carefully managed in conjunction with the artist to form subtle attractions rather than overwhelming.

― Cehao Yu

A hidden gem in one of the world’s most famous shopping destinations, Quadrant Arcade was long hidden by one of Regent Street’s main columns. After a stunning restoration and the removal of the column, Londoners and visitors alike are finally giving the arcade the recognition that it deserves. The only arcade on Regent Street, Quadrant Arcade is Grade II listed by the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, meaning that it is “of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve [it].”

In collaboration with London-based architectural firm Barr Gazetas, Cehao Yu and Lee Barker-Field of AECOM oversaw the restoration’s lighting design. Yu and Barker-Field’s primary goal for the project was to highlight the historical features of the arcade with minimal architectural lighting. Additionally, the designers sought to kindle a feeling of welcoming to promote commercial use, as well as to use light to foster “intuitive visual navigation at night.”

Through contemporary architectural illumination, the designers brought some modernity to the arcade while staying true to its historical character. In the arcade, the warmth from the ambient lighting contrasts against the cool from the series of pendants above. These pendants were custom-made by artists at Jason Bruges Studio to match the rest of the arcade’s iconic historical forms and to not overwhelm the space.

To enhance the allure of the arcade and captivate its visitors, Yu and Barker-Field hierarchically staged effects, disrupting uniformity in the light patterning. The interplay between the space’s architectural lighting and the pendants’ theatrical lighting, united under one intelligent control system, mirrors Regent Street’s buzzing energy.

Yu and BarkerField’s primary goal for the project was to highlight the historical features of the arcade with minimal architectural lighting.

The designers also made sure that the arcade invited shoppers in even as the sun begins to go down. As the day turns to night, the compositional dynamism of the lighting illuminates and energizes the arcade. At dusk, Quadrant Arcade’s elegance and grace continues to shine through, with concealed and carefully aimed lights highlighting its ornate details.

According to Yu, the biggest challenge of the project was “[revealing] the feature architectural details without exposing direct light sources, which would visually compete with the listed building and overwhelm the historic presentation.” In a further effort to preserve the historical integrity of the arcade, the designers recessed emergency lighting into the underside of the cornice “to limit visibility while meeting statutory norms.” 

QUADRANT ARCADE REGENT STREET, LONDON

Grade II listed by the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England

LIGHTING DESIGN: AECOM

Cehao, Yu, BArch, MSc, CEng, MCIBSE, MSLL

Lee Barker-Field

ARCHITECT: Barr Gazetas

FIXTURE SCHEDULE:

Feature pendant: Jason Bruges Studios (Bespoke)

Emergency lighting: custom by Etap (Bespoke)

Inground lighting: Filix – Bespoke

Linear wall washer: Sagitario Lighting

Spotlight: Iguzzini (Woody)

Integrated signage lighting: LED Flex (Neon Flex)

Concealed linear strip: Sagitario Lighting

Photo Credit: Philip Vile

This article originally appeared in the February issue of designing lighting