CHALLENGE The $1 million plus asking price for a one-bedroom apartment overlooking the Thames represents a record breaker by London standards, even for the very exclusive borough of Chelsea. But, the Vos Pad, as it is named, owes its value to more than just a strategic location in the British capital. Displaying contemporary aesthetics and cutting-edge technology, the apartment highlights a radical and innovative approach to residential design through the use of color-changing LEDs.

Marcel Jean Vos, a London-based Dutch designer, confesses that when RGB LEDs first came on the market a few years ago, he was immediately thrilled at the idea of experimenting with the light source in a residential environment. Challenged by the skepticism of other design professionals, he decided to go his own way and produce a prototype that could replace traditional sources of lighting.

ARCHITECTURAL AND LIGHTING SOLUTION Originally a 1,000-square-foot two-bedroom apartment, Vos converted it to a single. His effort to maximize the space led to an open-plan solution for both the kitchen and the living room. Sliding doors make the one-bedroom even more flexible. 'Allowing a free combination of uses and ambiences is what the chromatically controlled, fully dimmable LED lighting system is about,' says Vos. LEDs are the real medium of the design: the minimalist choice of materials and the simplicity of detail throughout the apartment reveal the creative potential of the color-changing lighting.

The entire apartment comprises white walls that are simply washed with RGB LED bar units recessed in the floor and embedded under glass. Micro aluminum cube wall sconces in the kitchen and lounge provide contrast to the wallwashers and a dramatic effect on the softly illuminated walls and ceilings; they reinforce the sensation of spaciousness and enhance the purity of the surfaces.

The kitchen's glass countertops and the bathroom's shower screen and backsplash are illuminated by panels that provide even distribution of light on all surfaces. The use of stainless-steel panels and mirrored doors for the kitchen appliances illustrates the capacity of LEDs to reveal the reflective quality of materials. The lighting system, centrally controlled, provides pre-programmed scenes with alternating color sequences, and creates a playful environment where lighting becomes a source of entertainment and well-being.

Encouraged by the success of this first experiment, Vos has become actively involved in researching less expensive and more efficient products. Despite the cost-the lighting installation was about $50,000-LEDs are energy efficient, low maintenance, and have a longer lifespan than traditional light sources, ultimately making them cost effective, explains Vos. He firmly believes in the imminence of a revolution in lighting solutions that will free the design process from the constraints of traditional systems. aurelia duplouich

A graduate of the Versailles School of Architecture, Aurelia Duplouich has worked on projects in France and the United States. She is currently completing a master's in urban design at the Bartlett in London.