Project Description


Debenhams’ tired; old façade has been given a bright and captivating facelift.  The new treatment courtesy of Light + Design Associates and American Artist Ned Kahn has injected life into the building’s façade as it appears to ripple fluidly as the wind activates thousands of suspended aluminium panels.

The almost 35,000m2 department store was revitalised using an innovative over-cladding system, which creates a captivating, interactive façade as it reacts to the ever changing patterns of the wind. Elga Niemann from Light + Design Associates explains:

“The client’s brief had come to us from British Land, which owns the building. They wanted it to be visible on Oxford Street but be fairly discreet to stay within Westminster’s planning constraints. Lighting was one of the key elements to achieve that, because it can create a visual presence without needing a physical presence.”

The aluminium panels are up lit using two runs of Philips Color Kinetics eColor Graze QLX Powercore in amber, as supplied by Architainment.  The runs are set at the bottom of the aluminium façade with one set close to light the bottom portion while the other, set further back, light the upper section.  The entire façade is illuminated from a single, hidden, but accessible position, with the lights on a timer so they automatically switch on at sundown and remain on till midnight. The façade is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK.

The department store can be viewed by anyone approaching from Oxford Street or Bond Street stations, satisfying the original brief of re-establishing Debenhams as a noticeable shopping destination without triggering a visual disturbance to the neighbouring area.



CLIENT > British Land

LIGHTING DESIGNER > Light + Design Associates

PHOTOGRAPHY > Light + Design Associates / Architainment