A mixture of display and architectural signage has been created for the redeveloped Duke of York Square site, situated on the famous King's Road in Chelsea. The 4.5-hectare former military campus, purchased by the Cadogan Estate in 1998, is now a fashionable shoppers' paradise set in a serene public square that boosts high quality natural stone, clusters of fountain jets, ambient lighting and art work that reflects the site's history. This site, which has been inaccessible to the public for 200 years, is the first public square to be created in the West End for over a century and is now home to the prestigious Saatchi Gallery.
The signage project was developed in two phases; the first phase was the design and creation of external retail signage and large display panels. For a contemporary cutting edge look, 34 double-sided projecting signs made from stainless steel and glass were created to provide a uniform display of retail signage around the square. To increase the level of ambient lighting in the square some of the projecting signs incorporated bespoke up-down lighting facilities. These were strategically placed to assemble a wash of light and illuminate the brickwork and pavement.
To entice people into the arcade, large glass and stainless steel illuminated display cabinets were created. For complete flexibility, the cabinets were designed with sliding doors to allow digital prints to be updated regularly. To enhance the digital prints the display units include florescent lighting, bringing colour and an exiting opportunity for point of sale within the arcade.
Both the external retail signs and display units play a central part in the overall design of Duke of York Square, which integrates existing historic buildings with a new built environment to create a series of linked spaces. By combining contemporary stainless steel with glass the signage remains unobtrusive and blends in with both architectural eras.
The second phase of the signage project was the creation of the entrance signs for the Saatchi Gallery. This was a complicated process as the banners had to reflect the ethos of the gallery, which aims to provide an innovative forum for contemporary art and presents work by largely unseen artists, while remaining sympathetic to the grade II listed architecture of the building, formally the Duke of York's Headquarters.
To introduce branding to the curved walled entrance five bespoke aluminium monoliths were constructed. For visual impact the monoliths were internally illuminated with Lumisheet, the world's first BLU (back light unit) with an energy efficient LED light source, to enhance the fret cut lettering. A further freestanding double sided monolith was created to produce an impressive architectural sign at the entrance of the gallery.
Immediately outside the gallery three bespoke double-sided banner masts were designed and constructed. Standing proud at ten metres high and weighing in excess of a ton each, structural calculations were an important consideration to ensure the banner masts were made from appropriate materials.
Due to the sensitive nature of this building English Heritage oversaw the design and approved the materials used. Saatchi Gallery were also involved in the design process and were guided by the expertise of Signbox. This exclusive sign system makes innovative use of a range of materials to produce a totally unique appearance that is modern yet subtlely blends in with the historic architecture of the building. The signage system also draws the Saatchi Gallery into the haven of Duke of York Square as a continuation of this new retail and lifestyle experience.
"The external Saatchi Gallery signing successfully completes the final phase of works at the Duke of York Square. Throughout the past 18 months Signbox's enthusiasm and support have proved invaluable, both in assisting with the lengthy design reviews and in providing the required technical experience and support. The contribution that you and your team have made has played a major part in the success and completion of these difficult works on time."
John Griffiths – Partner, Paul Davis and Partners Architects.