The OWO, Whitehall, London

The former Old War Office building in Whitehall, which once served as the headquarters for statesmen including Winston Churchill and as inspiration for writer Ian Fleming to pen his James Bond spy novels, is situated at one of London’s most historically important and powerful addresses. Having undergone a grand transformation, the Grade II* listed building is now home to a 120-room Raffles London at The OWO, and 85 Raffles branded Residences along with destination restaurants and bars. The Guerlain Spa spans 27,000 square feet over four floors at The OWO in a breathtaking setting with an extensive gym and a stunning 20m pool. The OWO Residences by Raffles is the very first Raffles residences in the UK and Europe.

dpa were extremely fortunate to have designed both the interior and exterior lighting to The OWO, with the exception of a few restaurants. We were therefore able to fully imagine how the lighting would contribute to the exterior façades and courtyards within the heart of the building.

To complement the warmth of the building interior and to respect The OWO and the character of the surrounding buildings, a very warm white light was used appropriately and softly to expose the stunning Edwardian Baroque architecture, sensitively restored by renowned EPR Architects. Lighting was carefully considered with a hierarchy of brightness within the core of the design to reduce light and intensity to the building as it rose from the ground up. Dimming was vital to balance the levels and refine the overall design to provide a soft and magical effect sitting comfortably amongst the other magnificent buildings. The architectural features were significant to expose at night given that they had never been seen in the hours of darkness since the building was built at the turn of the last century. Carefully positioned lighting exposed these architectural elements, from the immense 10m columns surrounding the building to minute details softly washed with light to the top of the four impressive towers. Finally, the Drury statues adorning each façade and flanking each tower are subtly revealed highlighting the gold gilding exposed against the warm Portland stone.

Other notable architectural features are the coat of arms and historic references from the War Office days, with beautifully detailed and restored entrances to the courtyard on Horse Guards Avenue and within the main Quadrangle at the heart of the building. Within the Quadrangle, unexpected contemporary interventions of the Pavilion restaurant and mirrored water feature by Daewha Kang Design can be found intentionally unlit to emphasise the reflection of the perimeter building.

Joint Shareholders: Hinduja Group and Onex Holding
Hotel Operator: Raffles London at The OWO
Architect: EPR Architects
Raffles London at The OWO: The Office of Thierry W Despont
Spa/Swimming Pool and Wellness Areas: Goddard Littlefair
The OWO Residences by Raffles: 1508 London
Show Residences at The OWO Residences by Raffles: various designers including Albion Nord, HBA Residential, Elicyon, Winch Design, Angel O’Donnell, RJP Design
Landscaped Residents’ Garden: Marcus Barnett and The Gardenists
Café Lapérouse Pavilion in Grand Courtyard: DaeWha Kang Studio (lighting design by others)
Chandeliers: iDOGI for ‘Meridies’ the venetian glass chandelier above the Grand Staircase; Lasvit for the poppies in The Poppy Suite; Dernier & Hamlyn used archive photography taken in the building before WWII to recreate beautiful George IV chandeliers for The Churchill Suite
Photography: James Newton Photographs