This permanent art work was commissioned by Esa Architects and Westminster City Council as part of the facade of 26-32 Oxford Street, a new construction project in the centre of London. An irregular pattern of lightboxes, made out of limestone, introduces a playful element in the classical, vertical order of the facade.
Esa Architects and Westminster City Council had expressed their wish for an artwork to be developed for the facade of 26-32 Oxford Street and for the art to be an integral part of the building fabric.
About the project
The larger structures on Oxford Street are reflections of the growth in entertainment and leisure industries around the end of the 19th century, purposely built to house large restaurants and shops. Numbers 26-32 Oxford Street used to be the site of the Floral Frascati Restaurant. Opening in 1893, Frascati grew to be an institution celebrated for its cosmopolitanism, luxury and excellent international cuisine.
The elegant venue provided a stage for jazz concerts, which attracted a fashionable clientele from all over the world. The artwork reflects the vibrant environment of Oxford Street and the rich historical background of the building site. Other key ideas were the creation of a sense of movement - the vibrance of the area, the continuous flux of people and traffic; a sense of rhythm and melody - a reference to the Frascati Restaurant and the Jazz Age Club; playful disturbance - playfully disrupting the classical design; volume and void - reflecting the changing identity of the area and the architecture in response to day and nighttime conditions.
Process & Development
Each front panel is a light box with its own unique form. The shapes are made from limestone, to fit in with the rest of the materialisation of the building.
A low-level lighting is added inside the displaced light boxes to create a response to the changing character of the building and the environment in day and nighttime conditions.
During the day the light boxes will be integral to the architectural design, its texture and colour palette. The soft light inside the boxes will give them an appearance similar to the windows and the concrete form and finish will be in harmony with the limestone elements of the facade.
At night the lighting will turn the voids into luminescent volumes, which gives them a more prominent appearance. The strips of light will be in dialogue with the back-lit windows and the brightly coloured surrounding lights in Oxford Street.
12 panels, each panel appr. 5200x1300x500 mm
Limestone, steel, aluminium, LED lighting
Commissioned public artwork by Westminster City Council and Esa Architects, London
Maaike Anne Stevens is a visual artist based in Amsterdam and London. She works with text, image, installation and film. Her work has been shown at exhibitions and screenings worldwide, including at the Jerwood Space London (UK), the Austrian Filmmuseum (Vienna), Visions du Réel, Nyon (CH), IFFR Rotterdam (NL), The Art Gallery of Alberta (CA), and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Santiago (CL). Her work is part of the Victoria & Albert Museum permanent collection. Maaike is a graduate of Central St.Martins College of Art and Design (BA Fine Arts, 2008) and Goldsmiths College (MFA Fine Arts, 2012).
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