Made famous by the film starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, Notting Hill, an area in West London is affluent, fashionable, and known for its Portobello Road Market. However, until recently, just a hillside away, Notting Dale sat derelict, cut off from the city and dotted with warehouses and council estates. But now the area has begun its transformation into a vibrant urban quarter: It's home to Notting Dale Village, a mixed-use development whose more than 500,000 square feet will include office, studio, and residential buildings, a boutique hotel, and a new road to connect the site with the city.
The development's first project, completed in 2008, is the Yellow Building, the anchor of Notting Dale Village that serves as a symbol of the area's promising revitalization. Designed by London-based Allford Hall Monaghan Morris Architects, it houses the global headquarters of Monsoon Accessorize, a European clothing brand whose founder and owner bought the entire Notting Dale Village site complete with planning permission to develop in future phases.
Measuring 120,000 square feet, standing seven stories tall, and containing office space, a modern art collection, an employee-only café, and a public restaurant, the Yellow Building—named for its vivid daffodil-hued cladding—is a distinctive concrete diagrid structure with an exposed warehouse-like aesthetic that exemplifies the architects' notion of a “white-collar factory.” As Maida Hot, design director at NDYLIGHT, the London-based lighting firm that devised the Yellow Building's lighting strategy, says, “It's an expressive building in terms of its appearance. Everything is on show, but at the same time is very much controlled with most elements being integrated into the design”—a factor that greatly informed the lighting scheme.
Having to design for such an immense space, Hot and her team began in the building's common areas. In the atrium and double-height ground floor, home to Monsoon's extensive art collection and where the company holds fashion shows, a gallery lighting approach is used for its flexibility. Track-mounted metal halide spotlights are aimed at walls, and locations are earmarked for art, exhibits, catwalks, and future lighting. The track allows any part of the space to be illuminated. In addition to grids of suspended oversized square dimmable T5 fluorescent downlights, spotlights aimed from the upper floors provide uniform ambient lighting. On the atrium's roof, circular cold cathode luminaires—similar fixtures are found in the reception area—supplement the general illumination.
From the atrium, a dramatic open staircase runs the height of the building, leading the eye rhythmically up to the lofty roof. Each stairway's steel balustrade is illuminated with integrated 14W T5 linear fluorescent fixtures, transforming the stairways into a dynamic artery. Alternatively, the elevator lobbies are subtly lit with borrowed light from 35W metal halide G12-lamped track fixtures from the floor below that shine through glazed floor tiles underfoot. Light also reflects off these tiles into the vestibules, creating a transparency that reinforces the building's airy appeal.
On the office floors, the layout is a combination of open plan spaces, shared offices, showrooms, and workshops. Situated to maximize connection between the staff, these areas are located on massive 20,000-square-foot unobstructed floor plates that span both sides of the atrium. Generously sized landings also link adjacent floors and act as informal art galleries and meeting and break-out spaces. Not only do these areas promote visibility between the various departments and encourage collaboration, the floor plan also typifies the industrial aesthetic of the warehouse office with its high ceilings, white interiors, and exposed concrete frame.
In keeping with the minimalist environment and to provide maximum flexibility, Hot chose a surface-mounted bus bar system—modified to accept occupancy sensors, fire detectors, and a range of fixtures—which is laid out equidistantly across the ceilings on all office floors. “We wanted to achieve a workspace of the future for the design company,” Hot explains. “Something that reflects their image, but at the same time has the elements of corporate flexibility and all the provisions of the modern workspace.” Accommodating these needs, the bus bar system is equipped with direct/indirect linear fluorescent fixtures that provide general illumination. Additional track-mounted wallwashers on the perimeter walls create vertical brightness.