Situated on a 50-by-50-meter site, this 15-story project will sensitively integrate itself into the historic Southwest corner of Leicester Square—the famous entertainment district in London. Originally built as a stage theatre in 1930, the building has undergone several iterations. Soon, the 350-room hotel will be complemented by two underground cinemas, restaurants, bars, wellness spaces and an event space all placed along a central, vertical spine so that each space can act independently or together. Once finished, this flagship of the Edwardian Hotel brand will become the new anchor for Leicester Square, and the platform for the relaunch of the West End.
Due to height restrictions determined by its historical context, the hotel construction required complex engineering methods derived with our collaborator, Arup, to provide six levels some 30 meters below ground, making it the deepest habitable commercial basement in the city and one of the deepest in the world.
The building stands at the intersection of four neighborhoods that each have their own aesthetics and scale, putting the onus on the façade to respond to each with detail, materiality and separate entrances. The mass of the building is steeped down at the south and rises to the north, which is pronounced by a tower wrapped in a faceted, ultramarine blue faience soffit. This unique façade will display 30 different mosaic patterns comprised of 15,000 terracotta tiles designed in collaboration with artist Ian Monroe. To precisely fit each handmade tile together, the design team utilized advanced BIM technology, giving the finished design a contemporary feel to a traditional material widely used in the city.
Responding to topographical stacking of the location, the building is broken up in three expressions to interact with each level appropriately. The low level is comprised of granite and glazed windows encased in brass fames. The main body is made up of horizontally stacked limestone—a similar makeup to that of the nearby Trafalgar Square—marked by vertical windows with a secondary inner layer of blue ceramic tiles. The upper datum towards the South displays ceramic tile on the top two stories to respond to the topographical scale of the neighborhood while the rest display limestone. The two-story roof covered in a series of zinc partitions is angled away from the cornice that twist open to reveal guest rooms windows and the rooftop bar. The mass of the building is anchored by the tower facing Leicester Square.
Internally, guests will find the “vertical club,” or a series of stacked facilities stabilized by the internal spine, which also helps to lessen the building footprint—earning a BREEAM “Excellent” rating—and inhibit circulation for guests to explore the hotel via an underground grand stair. Hotel guests’ experiences will also be enhanced with integrated IT and AV control systems in each room helping to make staff operations automated and meet the demands of digitally driven clients.
This internal makeup is supported by six, 55-ton steel trusses installed to transfer the weight of the above-ground structure over the area of the basement. It also provides the space for a 16-by-6.5 meter underground ballroom, as well as the cinema and an atria without any columns. With careful consideration of both the historic and transportation infrastructure surrounding the project, the construction process utilizes comprehensive monitoring to sensitively erect the building.