- Article by Online Editor
- Photography by Nick Bowers
- Designer Make
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The Piccadilly Hotel has long been a stalwart of Kings Cross nightlife. From all black to beige and back again the club has been kept steadily with the times, reflecting the zeitgeist with aplomb. The latest revamp by Make (Patricia Bondin and Antionia Pesenti) breathes a gust of European cool into the upper bar while reasserting the lower internal bar as a nightclub where the DJ is king.
Characterised by a minimal palette of red and black, the upper Piccadilly experience is reached via a long skinny entranceway that bypasses the lower public bar. This has been exaggerated masterfully with a wall treatment of parallel rows of black curved slatted timber (halved oversized dowel, overlaying an acoustic treatment of mineral fibre batts and protective mesh) that extend the entire length of the hall on both sides. At the upper edge of one wall only, an equally extensive band of lighting (Pro Shop LED Show Technology) adds sufficient accent to both exaggerate the elongation when viewed as a whole and ground the space to human scale when inhabited.
The change to the upper middle room is predominantly structural; however, the over bar lighting of Crompton oversized incandescent bulbs hanging on flex in a staggered formation is an impressive low budget solution. Adorned with red grasshoppers (stained plywood) a stylised tree in flat white (laser cut MDF two-pack polyurethane gloss) decorating a back wall is arguably the most visually arresting component of this rooms design. The strong, simple lines of the graphic make for a particularly whimsical visual within what is ostensibly the antithesis of the natural world. It also introduces a motif to be continued in the adjacent Aviary.
A series of red automotive-lacquered swing doors define the outer perimeter of the Aviary. Each door at centre eye level is graced with a cut-out in the shape of a simple though quintessential birdcage. This is a nice touch, being both an invitation to peek inside and an expression of the themes within. The interior is splendid. Entirely red and black, with the exception of a large white tree cut-out, the room is an absolute frolic. Oversized, stylised Alice in Wonderland seating with backs that defy proportion face each other booth style, while a large daybed takes central position. The furniture was designed by Make as self-supporting flat pack furnishings that could be laser cut by a joiner, clipped together with tongue and groove and completed with an upholstered pad.
Flying from the tree is a flock of red cut-out wall-graphic birds, while dangling overhead are myriad shining red birdcages, interspersed with the oversized bulbs used over the bar. Again it is the quintessential curved birdcage shape of fine lines and scrolling with the occasional elaborate double chamber cage. To achieve the glossy red finish Make enlisted the club staff to spray the cages with the same automotive paint as the doors in a makeshift booth set up in the bar (according to Make they were close to being hated by the end). A large cage on a stand provides an immediate mid-point, preventing the visual line of the cages above from forming an oppressive ceiling. Space has in fact been played with well. The carpet, like the walls, is predominantly black; however, the framing device of a red square outline at centre pushes the eye to the rooms corners to expand its visual perimeters (designed by Make Alex Bowen Carpets standard cut-pile broadloom).
The nightclub is more like a nightclub than most in that it is only marginally concerned with seated comfort, while maximal attention has been focused on the dance floor experience. The walls are fabulous, with a decided nod to Olafur Eliasson they resemble highly stylised crystalline forms that refract and reflect the programmed lighting effects. Laser cut and perforated sheets of stainless steel (riveted from behind) have been folded to form six-sided prisms that bounce light throughout the interior. The lighting issue was resolved in conjunction with the clubs lighting engineer, Dave Coxon (DJW Projects). Involving over 100 tri colour LED mr16 down lights this collaborative solution ensures the walls influence on the range of lighting effects can reach its full potential.
The brief was to resolve the acoustic issues that had prevented DJs from ramping up the sound, causing both the DJs and crowds to move away from the venue. The result is a cohesive space comprising several areas of activity that are entirely acoustically absorbent or neutral with even the metal treatment working as a sound barrier. The DJ has been brought back to central stage and the club has the look of a club, while upstairs the elegant Aviary is quietly kooky in a Danish design kind of style and a good place to start or end an evening.