Folded light

Carpenter | Lowings Architecture & Design as Architects

Folded Light is a 40 meter high integrated artwork across ten storeys of 8 Finsbury Circus, London. Designed specifically for a slender void space in the building measuring approximately 9 meters by 4.5 meters, this work serves as a strong visual connection between the lower ground floor and roof.


Manufactured from pattern-rolled stainless steel, ‘Folded Light’ is an asymmetrical arrangement of mostly triangular, three-dimensional folded panels of varying sizes and different folding angles.


Together, these create a single continuous rippled surface that appears more compacted towards the bottom as if compressed by the weight of the form from above. The angles of the folds are intended to enhance the drama in the existing light conditions by catching natural light from above and contrasting it with shadow below. More from the Artist:


Carpenter | Lowings Architecture & Design has finished the installation of its design for a 40-metrehigh integrated artwork across ten storeys of 8 Finsbury Circus, a new office development in the City of London which was formally opened this month.


’Folded Light’ – which has been designed specifically for a slender void space in the building measuring approximately 9 metres by 4.5 metres – serves as a strong visual connection between the lower ground floor and roof.


Manufactured from pattern-rolled stainless steel, ’Folded Light’, is an asymmetrical arrangement of mostly triangular, three-dimensional folded panels of varying sizes and different folding angles.


Together, these create a single continuous rippled surface that appears more compacted toward the bottom as if compressed by the weight of the form above. The angles of the folds are intended to enhance the drama in the existing light conditions by catching natural light from above and contrasting it with shadow below. The entire wall is split by a vertical blade of dichroic glass which separates the spectrum of light into two, complementary sections. This results in a contrasting range of colours when viewed from either side of the void space.


Luke Lowings, Principal at Carpenter | Lowings Architecture & Design says:


“This was a fantastic opportunity to work in conjunction with Wilkinson Eyre and add a new dimension to the daylight concept of 8 Finsbury Circus. ‘Folded Light’ is intended to provide a visual connection between people on every floor in the building with the presence and changing character of natural daylight. While it cannot be viewed as a complete installation from any single vantage point, its different sections are designed to relate individually to each floor, while remaining recognisable parts of the whole.“ Lowings continues: “The artwork exploits the almost vertical angle of light from the sky: the angles of the dimpled surfaces of the steel which alternately face upward and downward, exaggerate the contrast of light and shade and bring the directionality, mutability, and colour of daylight into the building. The folds of the installation become more compacted towards the base which means that their angles are progressively steeper, allowing them to catch daylight from above even in the depth of the void space. We choose to design in stainless steel because of steel’s particular surface finish. It is textured to distribute light with minimal glare, something which is a challenge to achieve in other, equally durable materials.” Natural light entering the void space can be enhanced and supplemented by artificial lighting, when required. Cool white light sources from above mimic daylight, while a full range of colours from below increases the dramatic impact of the artwork. Side-lighting at each floor level picks out the colour in the dichroic-coated glass.


As well as being a significant, integrated piece of artwork in the new building, ’Folded Light’ has been designed to serve a practical function: it turns the intake for air-handling machinery which is located in the basement of the building into an asset for the building by ensuring that the flow of air through the void space is not obstructed, while concealing an otherwise unexceptional party wall view at the eastern side of the building. The void is open at roof level and, consequently, the artwork is designed to be robust and easy to clean.


Key facts about ‘Folded Light’: • The ‘unfolded length’ of the artwork – approximately 42 metres – is just two metres longer than the height (40 metres) of the installation. There are 90 steel folds included in the design; • The stainless steel used for the artwork is just 1.2mm thick; however, the total weight of the installation in situ is estimated to be more than 3,600kg; • In total, ‘Folded Light’ comprises some 47 three-dimensional forms, made up from 217 sheets of individually laser-cut, drilled, bent and riveted stainless steel, mounted on welded aluminium frames; • The vertical blade of dichroic glass separating the two sides of the artwork is 36.5m in length, 430mm deep and 12mm thick; this piece of glass weighs approximately 470kg and is made up of 14 separate laminated and dichroic coated elements.


Oliver Tyler, Director, WilkinsonEyre says: “The lightwell brings daylight down through the building and provides a visible connection between floors. An art installation by Carpenter | Lowings, commissioned for the project, runs the full height of the lightwell. The dynamic piece, composed of folded stainless steel panels, was developed in response to a brief prepared by Wilkinson

8 Finsbury Circus

WilkinsonEyre as Architects

Following a design competition in 2011, WilkinsonEyre was appointed for the redevelopment of the former River Plate House in Finsbury Circus. Working to the client’s overall vision for an ‘exemplary’ new office building for this historic City site adjacent to the listed Britannic House by Edwin Lutyens, with access from both Finsbury Circus and South Place. The new building provides 15,000m² of grade A, flexible office space with ground floor retail.


The redevelopment includes the construction of new contemporary Portland Stone and bronze façades and the retention of a portion of the north façade dating from the 1920s. Juliet balconies and dormer windows within the mansard with their crisp, frameless glazing continue the theme of traditional elements given a modern twist. Castings from the building’s original railings have been retained and embodied into the walls of the entrance.


The building is configured around a central core, providing large column free office space at all levels. A sculptural main circulation stair has been positioned with good visibility from the core to encourage use of the stair between floors. Within the impressive reception a traditional palette of stone, bronze and walnut is imaginatively detailed to provide an uplifting environment for the occupiers. The lift shafts, in translucent glazing, provide both a source of light and movement, with the lift cars casting shadows as they rise and descend. WilkinsonEyre has designed two walnut veneered sculptures which act as focal points within the large space and provide a place to sit.


A walnut clad recess in the curved stone wall on the east side of the reception houses a sleek reception desk and provides views into the lower levels of the lightwell. The lightwell brings daylight down through the building and provides a visible connection between floors. An art installation by Carpenter Lowings, commissioned for the project, runs the full height of the lightwell. The dynamic piece, composed of folded stainless steel panels, was developed in response to a brief prepared by WilkinsonEyre that sought both a focal point and device to introduce reflected light into the depth of the building.

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