A Building Facade Uses Lights to Paint Central London

There’s an eternal tension between contemporary architecture and its (older) surroundings, with the former perpetually lambasted for neglecting to conform to the character of the latter. A clever new facade by the UK lighting designers Jason Bruges Studio would appear to sidestep the issue entirely: it throws the neighborhood straight onto the side of the building.

The facade enshrouds the new W Hotel in London’s bustling Leicester Square, and it’s designed to take images from the local environs and convert them into a dazzling abstract light show.

How it works: Eight cameras mounted on the hotel roof snap pictures of the adjacent buildings and skyline every minute, night and day. Custom software then stitches the photographs together into panoramic images that are then compressed into a 2-minute film. Finally, the film is recreated on the facade, which is made up of 600 lights diffused through fritted glass. We know it sounds a tad confusing and complex, but just watch the video above. It’s mesmerizing.

The coolest thing about the facade is that it’s like a perpetual diary of the area, recording the changing lights and colors and mood 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. No two days are precisely the same. Visit on a clear night in mid-June, and the lights will look fresh and summery; visit around Chinese New Year, and they’ll be awash in theatrical red. For a part of the city with lots of history and character to spare, it’s about as close as a chain hotel in a glassy modern building can get to visual harmony.

[Images courtesy of Jason Bruges Studio]