A sculptural cornice in in glazed terracotta by Richard Deacon and a carved stone sculpture by Stephen Cox are an integral part of the new building at One Eagle Place in Piccadilly. The building creates a striking and unusual contemporary façade in a prominent position on Piccadilly. The commissions are a collaboration with Eric Parry Architects. St James’s Gateway is the Crown Estate’s first redevelopment in a £550m investment in a 10-year plan to transform St James’s area in central London.
“I always like to be in a dialogue. If you’re working with artists, the way [their work] integrates with the architecture and responds to it is absolutely fundamental.” Eric Parry
“amazingly mysterious. The great thing with Stephen is that you never know what will come out when he carves into stone. We talked about an anthropomorphic piece, and how to mediate between sky and earth. Stephen carved it in India, and responded with this cosmic face. It’s interrupted by a mask of gold or a sun disc. The face is peering through: it will catch the evening light, and glow and float.”
The terracotta sculpture is Richard Deacon’s first artwork to be integrated with a building. The 25-metre long cornice resembles a display of window box flowers planted upside-down on the cornice, suggesting associations with polychromatic decoration of classical Greek architecture. The work is formed of 39 individual, ceramic transfer sculptures, articulated by geometric structure and combinations of colour to create a unique pattern of modules which recalls the artifice of Piccadilly Circus.
“I was delighted to work with Richard Deacon on this project and to assist the development of an artwork which is so sympathetic to the architecture below. The cornice is inspired by the exuberance and activity of the nearby Piccadilly Circus and shows how true collaborations between architects and artists can enrich the experience of buildings for inhabitants of, and visitors to, London.” Eric Parry
The artwork has been thoughtfully integrated into the architecture to contrast the quiet order evident in the lower storeys of the building, which blends contemporary modern elevations with retained Portland stone façades.
St James’s Gateway is the first building in the UK to employ ceramic transfer to the faience façade. This method, which was developed in Stoke-on-Trent in the 18th century, has not been used for architectural ceramic before and has here been applied to Deacon’s cornice as well as to the red-coloured frames of the double-height windows below.
Main Image: Dirk Lindner
Richard Deacon interview with Richard Cork