London’s Burlington Arcade is set to return to its former glory after the shopping arcade announced that it is to undergo a multi-million pound restoration programme in time for the Queen’s Jubilee in May 2012. The arcades new owners MeyeBerman and Thor Equities have commissioned heritage architect Michael Blair to research and restore the Burlington Arcade and to re-establish the historical link to its sister building, Burlington House, which now houses the Royal Academy.
Blair Associates Architecture Ltd has undertaken meticulous research using the original architect, Samuel Ware’s blueprints and historical records and photos to re-instate the building as one of the world’s leading shopping destinations.
The principal areas of work, which will take place at night, will focus on the following areas: the arcade floor will be replaced with marble and stone in line with the original 1819 floor; the arcade will be repainted according to the original soft white colour to reflect light and highlight the beautiful detailing of the upper arches; the opalescent and heavy lights, which were installed eight years ago will be removed and replaced by discreet uplighting to allow a clear and unobstructed view of the upper level of the arcade a central part of the architect’s original vision; and areas which mar the beauty of the architecture such as the electric cabling and the retailer’s air conditioning units will be repositioned to ensure the integrity and fabric of the building is assured.
Additionally, to further align the historical link with Burlington House, the owners have proposed to incorporate sculptures by internationally acclaimed British artist, Antony Gormley. The three ‘Cloud’ sculptures will be set in the three recesses of the Arcades arches to add new layers of interest for its visitors.
In addition to restoring the physical building the owners have already re-introduced the daily unlocking of the gates ceremony, which was discontinued by its former owners and the Beadles’ uniforms will be updated by a traditional Savile Row tailor.
Since being under the new ownership, three existing retailers leases have been renewed, Penhaligons, Crockett & Jones and specialist jeweller Matthew Foster, and the arcade has also just recently welcomed British accessories designer Lulu Guinness and will see the first UK menswear store Jimmy Choo open next month.
Work on the restoration will go before the Westminster planning committee, with hopes that work will commence in January 2012 and be completed in early May 2012.
Image: Burlington Arcade - artist’s impression of the restored arcade