Streets ahead

Thursday 10 Jun 2010

London's most innovative architects to design window displays in Regent Street

With the launch of London Festival of Architecture only nine days away, things are really beginning to hot up in the quirky fashion capital, with new details of events and exhibitions released on an almost daily basis. The most recent of these is a collaboration between Regent Street’s high street stores and some of London’s most innovative architects.

Under the guidance of the RIBA, five inspiring local architects have been invited to create a series of captivating architecturally-led window displays for a leading fashion retailer under the Festival’s theme, ‘The Welcoming City’. The project will see Austin Reed team up with Tonkin Liu, Anthropologie with Sarah Wigglesworth Architects, COS with Spacelab, Banana Republic with Moxon Architects and Oasis with Hawkins/Brown. The unique installations will be on display from 16th June until the end of the Festival on 4th July, however all architects involved in the project will be presenting their ideas at a free event on 22nd June, which includes a guided tour of the shop-front exhibitions. See our event listings for further details.

To keep you going in the meantime, here’s a brief taster of what’s to come. For Austin Reed’s window display, Tonkin Liu is to create a dramatic shell lace sculpture using lightweight materials in order to minimise weight and wastage. The installation is designed to explore how tailoring can inform the creation of architectural forms, perfectly in keeping with a store so synonymous with structured fashion pieces. Hawkins/Brown and artists Bob and Roberta Smith have also taken their assigned retailer as a muse, creating a personalised ‘Oasis’ in the city. Lavender, scrap materials and beehives form the basis of their design, although performance and personalised signage are also rumoured to play a sizable part in the composition of this self-contained micro-environment.

On a similar level, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects have also incorporated discarded materials into its installation for Anthropologie, allowing the pieces to ‘take on new value’. In the architect’s topsy-turvy world, buildings are destined to become garments, duvets will become clouds and fabrics are to be re-stitched as the city is re-imaged with an enchanting, escapist tilt. On a slightly more technical tack, Spacelab are set to transform COS’ window display with a dynamic performance using low-tech cog belts and motors to rotate a series of cardboard boxes. The alternating patterns created by this process are said to ‘simulate the connections between architecture, fashion and the public’. Last but by no means least is Moxon Architects’ collaboration with Banana Republic, who’s experimentation with translucent sheets will create undulating volumes and voids through layering and light. Holes within the sheets are set to provide visual access to the store’s fashion collections inside.

London is famed for its mix of traditional and modernist architecture, so there it only seems right that these striking innovative installations should be showcased on a street so rich in architectural heritage. London Festival of Architecture 2010 runs from 19th June until 4th July. See WAN event listings for more detailed information.

Regent Street will also be launching a ‘Regent Street walking tour App’ and issuing a printed guide to illustrate the exciting and informative route along the infamous street – an instant almanac of architecture, history of the shops, restaurants, cafes and bars. The App can be downloaded from the Apple store for free and the printed guide picked up at some of the Regent Street stores or by clicking here. .

Sian Disson
Editorial Assistant

Key Facts:

United Kingdom
Commercial Retail Urban design

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