The Architecture Ensemble

PROJECT : Wall of Light
LOCATION : Soho, London
DATE : 2006

The Wall of Light was designed as a semi-transparent wave-like screen that would allow unimpeded views of the churchyard and the listed St Annes church tower from the street during the day and cast ever-changing coloured light onto the pavement at night. It would ensure that the garden could not be entered when the screen's gates were locked and prevent drug dealing both between the street and garden and also within the garden.

The screen is built of curved French oak glu-laminated tusks raised on top of and slightly behind a Victorian brick and granite wall. Stretched across the tusks is a 50 metre long concave stainless steel mesh which emits light from a computer-controlled fibre-optic system onto the pavement and street below. It is programmed by eight motor-driven projectors that send light through the screen's mesh structure using the the modern equivalent of 1970s colour wheels that operate individually to allow almost infinite variations of light patterns. The mesh was chosen due to its anti-grip tight weave and, being concave to the street, it also provides a shape that is virtually impossible to climb.

The effect is that this stretch of Wardour Street has been transformed from a no-go zone to a place where people gravitate and dwell. The day-time use of the garden has blossomed following the stoppage of drug dealing and rough sleeping within the garden.