Fletcher Priest wins approval for major Piccadilly Circus redevelopment


The spaces behind the iconic illuminated signs of London's Piccadilly Circus are set to be occupied for the first time since the 1950s, as part of a renovation by Fletcher Priest Architects that includes a huge rooftop extension.

Fletcher Priest received planning permission earlier this month to transform the various buildings that make up the Piccadilly Lights complex into offices, shops and apartments for developer Land Securities.

This includes the building behind the glowing signs, much of which has sat derelict for over 60 years.

Piccadilly Circus redevelopment by Fletcher Priest
Glazed ceramic tiles will clad the new rooftop extension. Both this image and top rendering are by DBOX

The British firm plans to insert a new top-lit winter garden behind the signs. It will also add a new faceted roof across the entire urban block, featuring decorative ceramic tiled surfaces, angular windows and secluded balcony terraces.

The aim is to solve the "jigsaw puzzle of uses and apparently contradictory interests with a playful, rational approach that belies the complexity of the site".

Piccadilly Circus redevelopment by Fletcher Priest
Passersby will be able to glimpse sections of the extension above the existing gables

The tile-clad volume will extend up from the roofline of all the buildings, which date back as far as 1910. Beneath it, new workspaces aimed at Soho media companies will each have access to their own private terrace.

People on the street will only be able to glimpse the extension from certain locations, but its colourful surface will offer a bright contrast to the old gables.

Inside, the new spaces will feature window seats and built-in ledges that function as worktops.

Piccadilly Circus redevelopment by Fletcher Priest
In the 1960s Piccadilly Circus featured illuminated signs across a number of different buildings

Situated in the heart of London's West End, Piccadilly Circus is a major traffic interchange, home to the London Pavilion and Criterion Theatre. During the second world war it was filled with clubs serving American soldiers, and also featured the popular Café Monico.

Numerous buildings covered in illuminated signs once filled Piccadilly, but the one on Fletcher Priest's site is the last left, so became a city landmark that has proved impossible to develop over the last 60 years.

But the firm's plan to rework it has now won approval from both Westminster Council and London mayor Boris Johnson.

The site now features the only building in Piccadilly Circus still covered in signs, but much of it has been derelict since the 1950s

"This exciting multi-layered proposal reflects the dynamism of Piccadilly Circus itself, which is London’s most popular and inclusive public space," said studio co-founder Keith Priest.

"The equivalent of Tokyo's Shibuya or New York City's Times Square, it expresses the essence of the city – its highs and lows, its glamour and grunge."

"We hope to revive the area and capture the essence of its history and identity: the fascinating story of Monico, from its days as a restaurant that was once a regular tea-dance venue, to the origins of Rainbow Corner as a meeting place for American GIs in London, and more recently as the backdrop to a dazzling array of films," he added.

Fletcher Priest has offices in London, Cologne and Riga, and is also currently working on a 25-storey tower in the UK capital's Bank of England Conservation Area.

Piccadilly Circus redevelopment by Fletcher Priest
Proposed site plan
  • Roberto Sideris

    A very attractive (somehow Parisian) design, but hoping to ‘revive’ the area through a secluded rooftop re-design sounds questionable.

  • Poitings

    As long as we don’t have to see it from street level I’m ok with it. But I don’t want that garbage design pouring over and spoiling our historical architecture.

  • liz

    Great design but I’m also doubtful about its impact on the area.

  • Mr J

    Incomprehensible that the site has remained unused for so long.

    I can’t say the design itself appeals to me, but at least the works will bring some life back.

  • Kay

    Not a fan. Also, isn’t it about time we made Piccadilly Circus (and much of the West End) a pedestrian-only zone? We can have connector points with main streets (like Piccadilly or Shaftesbury) and the remaining streets get closed off.

    It would reduce pollution, car noise and free up the streets so that everyone can enjoy. You can put in a few dedicated cycle lanes (Amsterdam style). I don’t know how an endless row of black cabs, double decker buses and infinity of Uber cars locked in a never-ending traffic adds any value…

  • Ammaarah Felix

    Still have mixed emotions on this. On the one hand, it’s great they’re finally using the space, but on the other, the design itself just doesn’t appeal to me.

  • Felix Amiss

    The ceramic tiles and great window panes all look very desirable! They could remove one of the advertising boards to show off the vertical ‘green lung’ winter garden organ within.