W Hotel & M&M World - London, UK

Jestico & Whiles
Date Built
Leicester Square
This new building occupies a block defined by Coventry Street, Whitcomb Street, Lisle Street and Leicester Street near Leicester Square. 

Between 1968 and 2006 it was home to the Swiss Centre, a development that contained a Swiss bank, shops, a restaurant and businesses, and the Swiss National Tourist Board.  The building comprised a typical 1960s office tower, that rose 14 storeys above a 2-storey podium.  Over the years the Centre underwent a number of modifications and accommodated a variety of tenants, including an Odeon cinema, bars, night clubs and a recording studio.  However, by 2002 Westminster City Council's planning department had identified the Swiss Centre as a failing building and proposed it as an opportunity for complete redevelopment.  This eventually led to the building's demolition and made way for a new mixed-use development by McAleer & Rushe who appointed the architects Jestico and Whiles to design, "... a landmark 200,000 square foot property."

The building is home to, among others, the W Hotel and M&M World London.  The arcitects describe it as, "a landmark 192 bedroom, 5 Star hotel in the heart of London’s West End.  ...  In addition to the hotel, the new ten-storey building houses retail, leisure and residential accommodation spread over 200,000 square feet, including a spa, 11 penthouse apartments and two basement levels accommodating a new retail-leisure experience provided by a leading global brand."

Passers-by will be attracted by the buildings facade which is, " ... veiled in translucent glass suspended off the face of the building like a floating sheer curtain, evoking the cinematic heritage of this part of the West End. This veil functions like a huge pixel screen, the first of its kind in the UK. It allows the presence of the building to alter as day turns to night."

The light installation was designed by Jason Bruges.  The designer says that it is, "London’s first responsive and illuminated façade artwork."  The Fast Code Design website explains that the system takes, " ... images from the local environs and converts them into a dazzling abstract light show. ... 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."

One of the building's other attractions is  M&M® World which occupies 35,000 square feet over four floors.  Its website says that it has, "an extensive range of M&M's® chocolates and merchandise, including kitchenware, clothing, bedding, jewellery and glassware.  It even has a giant wall of chocolate where you can create your own M&M’s® selection from over 100 choices."

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