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Architectural Color Changers


Marks & Spencer Building, Fenchurch Street

Thirty-two City Colors were used in a spectacular two week interior and exterior lighting scheme to mark the recent opening of a new Marks & Spencer’s store in Fenchurch Street.

The project was produced for Marks & Spencer by brand experience consultancy Hotcakes and designed by Darren Parker of DPL Production Lighting, who worked closely with High Wycombe-based A C Lighting and west London-based Avolites to achieve the desired effect.


The external portion of the lighting scheme was achieved with six City Color architectural luminaries – selected for their incredible power, brightness and durability. These dramatically illuminated the neo-deco façade of the M&S building – itself a particularly striking piece of modern architecture surrounded by office buildings on all sides. These fixtures provided contrasting and complementing colours to those sited inside the building.

Weight restrictions prevented any lights being located on the M&S building itself, and the busy streets below weren’t an option either. So the fully weatherised City Colors were mounted on the rooftops of an office building across the road, while the Pearl console was located within the main M&S building.

Cabling was obviously out of the question, so DMX signals needed sending to both sides of a busy road in the heart of the City of London.

A wireless control solution was devised by A C Lighting. This ensured DMX signals were transmitted reliably across the required distance, within the given budget, using Artistic Licence’s Net-Link I/P and Net-Link O/P Ethernet to DMX512 converters, interfaced to ELSA LANCOM L-11 Wireless Ethernet Adapters.

The Net-Link I/P took in DMX data from the Avolites Pearl and converted it into Ethernet using the Art-Net protocol. The Ethernet data was then transmitted across the road using a pair of ELSA LANCOM L-11 Wireless Ethernet transceivers, operating at 2.4GHz.

A Net-Link O/P unit then converted the data back into DMX data, distributed to the different floors of the M&S building – where the console was located on the 3rd floor - via Avolites DMX splitters, and using cable in the traditional manner.



Darren Parker took advantage of the reflective white interiors of five of the M&S building’s unoccupied floors, by using them to location more fixtures. The ensuing mirror effect resulted in shafts of richly saturated colours from the City Colors shooting across vast areas and out of the windows, changing colour every few seconds, and carefully focused to avoid blinding the surrounding offices with light.

Floors 3, 4 and 7 featured seven City Colors per floor, with floors 5 and 6 each housing a single City Color, focused out from the front of the building.

Darren selected an Avolites Pearl 2000 console as the core lighting controller because operators Chris Doy and Andy Higgins ran the early evening light show ‘live’ each night, taking it in turns to oversee the two different locations – indoor and outdoor.

Darren thinks Avolites is an ideal control platform for any type of hands-on application, "The Pearl’s fantastic – and was exactly what we wanted - a flexible, hands on, reliable desk" he states.

On the City Colors, he says simply, "I love them – they are a great piece of kit!"

"The project has been a great success, and the wireless DMX link is very stable, it really is hard to believe that it’s not running through a cable. It beats the hell out of digging up the road!"

Matt Briggs, Hotcakes’ Producer, was equally enthusiastic: "We have worked with Darren Parker on a number of recent projects, and felt that he was an ideal choice to create the bold, modern and assertive mood required for the display", he explained.

Sean Curtis, Marketing Communications Manager at Marks & Spencer added, "The complexities in setting up this scheme and accommodating the equipment and crew has involved some considerable skill in diplomacy and health and safety. The display blends beautifully with the magnificent modern architecture of the store, and judging by the number of people who stopped in the street to look and drink in the experience, Marks and Spencer has been well and truly put on the City map! We are delighted with the result."

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