AirW1, London



Architect
Dixon Jones
Date Built
2011
Location
20 Air Street
Description
The airW1 development in London's West End is in fact a redevelopment of what was once one of the World's largest hotels.  Working on behalf of Crown Lands, the architectural practice of Dixon Jones has preserved elements of the hotel, refurbished some of its art deco features, and tied all of this into a high value mixed-use building that occupies a whole city block near Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus.





The hotel in question was the Regent Palace Hotel opened in 1915 by J Lyons & Co famous for their Cornerhouse caf├ęs.  The hotel described its opening as marking, ".. an epoch in Hotel Luxury .... In decoration, furnishing and catering it inaugurates the highest standard yet attained."  The Regent Palace continued to serve visitors through two World Wars and finally fell on hard times closing for good in 2006. 



In 2010 much of the building was demolished with the exception of three corner elevations that were refurbished along with a number of art deco interiors created by Oliver Bernard in the early 1930s.  Dixon Jones say that the challenge was to retain. "... the finest elements of the existing building and introduce new facades, retail and mixed uses on each of the three streets ... New offices rub shoulders with residential and retail whilst historic restaurants have their entrances at street level alongside a variety of shops."  The hotel had been clad in white faience ....



.... and the new sections of the building have carried on that tradition except they they are much more colourful. 







As part of the development, Glasshouse Street has been pedestrianised allowing retail outlets, like the Whole Foods Market, to expand out into the public space.







An arcade has been created to allow public access through the building.  It features a mirrored ceiling and an art installation based on layers of glass.



The Regent Palace Hotel had employed over a thousand staff in its heyday, many of whom were accommodated in an adjacent building linked to it by a rather attractive bridge.  The hotel's laundry was also in this building.  That building is now a separate entity but the bridge still spans Sherwood Street.