Commonplace, One Bedford Avenue
One Bedford Avenue is a new flagship development on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Tottenham Court Road in London’s West End. Designed by Stirling nominated architects Bennetts Associates, it provides 70,000 sq. ft. of prime office space over seven floors.
Artist Lilah Fowler was commissioned to design ‘Commonplace’, a public artwork to reflect the interior themes of the building: a celebration of the unseen history of the area linking the building’s location to its socioeconomic context. The artwork is comprised of an LED light and glass fritting design that draws from the history of technology commerce at Tottenham Court Road, following its evolution from analogue to digital and to potential future technologies.
“At first, it looks simple—an exacting placement of neon lights in rows alongside the windows of One Bedford Avenue—but it’s actually a complex data channel: the straight lights and square windows form a binary code of 0s and 1s, representing an encrypted text.”
– Excerpt from commissioned text by art critic, Orit Gat
While binary code represents the current state of technology, quantum computing represents one potential future. Working with a quantum physicist at University College London, quantum cryptography technology has been used to encode an image as a pattern on the windows’ glass fritting design. When decoded, both encryptions spell out a line and page of the commonplace books, found in The Bedford Estates Archive, the family who have owned the land since 1669 – “Our knowledge is nothing but the glass of our own imperfections”.
Lighting designers Pritchard Themis were appointed as light consultants for the project, and specified VarioLED Flex Venus RGB TV IP67 luminaires from LED Linear. These were chosen due to their ability to provide a full tonal range around the colours of yellow and blue. They are also suitable for mounting externally and available in custom lengths of up to 5m. The lighting installation consists of 74 luminaires that have been recessed into window reveals to appear hidden from view, while casting directional blue or yellow light according to the pedestrian angle to the building.
Architainment worked with the installer from an early stage to ensure seamless integration within the buildings infrastructure and created a custom controls enclosure to simplify installation.
Architainment Technical Services also attended site with the artist and programmed the set colours of the artwork. ColorPlay 3 light show authoring software was used to pick the colours, and the shows for the installation run automatically on a Philips Color Kinetics iPlayer 3 supplied by Architainment.