Dezeen Magazine

Art commissions at Heathrow Terminal Five

Troika, Christopher Pearson and El Ultimo Grito are among designers commissioned to create works for Heathrow Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport near London, which opens this spring.

Multidisciplinary studio Troika's 22m long wall display, called All the Time in the World (below), displays the time in different places around the world, including at the locations of famous mountains, museums and natural and man-made wonders. GMT is displayed in the centre, with locations to the West of London placed on the left, and places to the East on the right.

Troika's Cloud (below) will hover over the escalators in the main atrium of the giant terminal, which is designed by architect Richard Rogers. Flip dots (like on railway information boards) on the surface will be controlled by software to change the Cloud's appearance constantly throughout the day.

Christopher Pearson's Oak Seasons (below) are six glass screens laser etched with patterns describing the growing cycle of the English Oak tree. Among the foliage are surprising items such as a light bulb between leaves, swing hanging from a branch and a road map.

His Animated Crest (below) appears at first to be a British Airways crest carved out of stone, but Pearson has made it into a 3-D animation with the lion and pegasus moving around.

El Ultima Grito's Kidzone (below) features brightly coloured furnishings and magnetic walls covered in characters which children can use to make characters and stories

The pieces will be installed in the terminal 5 lounges, which will be called referred to as Galleries. Work will also be shown from British Airways' existing art collection, which has been acquired over the last eleven years and includes over 1, 500 pieces.

The new pieces were commissioned by terminal operator British Airways through art curating company Artwise, and were unveiled yesterday evening.

Below are descriptions of the projects, followed by a press release about the new T5 Galleries, both from Artwise:


All the Time in the World by Troika:

Troika has been commissioned by British Airways to create a 22 m long display wall for the entrance hall of their T5 lounges. With ‘All the time in the world’ Troika has extended the traditional notion of a world clock, which commonly concentrates on capitals of different time zones. ‘All the time in the world’ does not only connect the different capitals of the world, but it also celebrates less apparent places including:

  • Natural wonders: Grand Canyon, Victoria Falls, Great Barrier Reef
  • The highest mountains: Mount Whitney, Elbrus, Kilimanjaro, Everest, Fuji
  • Forgotten wonders: Tenochititlan, Abu Simbel, Taj Mahal, Ankor Wat
  • Museums: Guggenheim, Louvre, Hermitage, Mori Museum \
  • Modern wonders: Panama Canal, Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House

The layout of the world clock is inspired by the geographic position of the places displayed: The large clock displays London’s local time. Places west of London are displayed to the left of the large clock, places east of London to its right.

A integral part of this large-scale installation is a bespoke modular text display system developed by Troika. The display uses electroluminescent technology by Elumin8 and is designed to create modular, text-based, ultra thin interactive screens. The content is controlled by a remote computer and updatable. This is the first time that this display system has been implemented worldwide.

Cloud by Troika:

Troika has also developed a kinetic sculpture in the form of a stylised cloud that will hang in the atrium between the escalators into the lounges. This five metre long sculpture is the first three-dimensional non-rectangular structure made using flip dot technology (as would be seen on information boards at railway stations). The sculpture is made up of 5,000 flip dots with bespoke finishes and specially developed animation software that allows the appearance of the cloud to change throughout the day.

Laser Etched Glass Screens by Christopher Pearson:

Three pairs of 3-d laser etched glass screens that bring together traditional illustration and contemporary technologies are situated in the First Galleries lounge. Each pair has a delicate 3D laser etching featuring a pattern of the changing cycle of the English Oak tree. Hidden within the intricate and beautiful patterning of his drawings are surprising and incongruous details such as a light bulb hanging between two leaves, a swing suspended from a branch and a leaf that has been magically transformed into a road map of the UK! In doing this Pearson brings a contemporary aesthetic and sense of humour to his apparently traditional designs.

Animated Crest by Christopher Pearson:

In the Concorde lounge a seemingly traditional British Airways crest in trompe l’oeil above a fireplace will unexpectedly come alive in 3D animation with Pegasus and the Lion getting up to all sorts of antics!

Kidzone by El Ultimo Grito:

El Ultimo Grito, a creative company specialising in design, have developed a totally new and innovative concept for the kidzone. This is a complete environment designed by El Ultimo Grito that contains colourful interactive furnishings and magnetic walls that host an array of specially designed characters that kids of all ages can play with creating their own creatures and stories. There will be 4 kidzones at T5.

On March 27, 2008 British Airways will officially complete their move into Terminal 5, making the Richards Rogers’ designed terminal its brand new home at London Heathrow airport. In celebration of the arrival, the airline commissioned four emerging artists and designers to create six major art works, through art curating company Artwise, to be installed in the brand new terminal’s lounges. Fittingly, all the lounges in T5 are formally named ‘Galleries’.

The new Terminal 5 art commissions will build upon an impressive portfolio of existing British Airways commissions, also curated by Artwise, that includes site specific works by Sol LeWitt, Andy Goldsworthy, David Nash, Janet Cardiff, Tord Boontje and Tjep Studio for Droog (which won the prestigious Dutch Design Award of the Year, 2004). Troika, El Ultimo Grito, Christopher Pearson and Oona Cully are the selected artists who will be unveiling their new permanent site-specific commissions to the public on March 27, 2008.

These emerging British based artists are already receiving significant recognition for their innovative and technologically groundbreaking practices. For the T5 art commissions, the works shown will be bringing together art and design in a fresh new way whilst showcasing new technology in a pioneering manner.

Susie Allen, Founding Director of Artwise explains that in a decade which is daily experiencing technological breakthroughs, this special group of young artists are rethinking the classic understanding of art and design by fusing them in such a way that forces us to consider how creativity is being turned on its head. We are thrilled that British Airways are paving the way, not only in their own industry, but also showcasing the wealth of creativity produced in this country. This is a wonderful example of how the creative industries can work together to create a first class product.

For the last 11 years British Airways has worked with Artwise to purchase and commission contemporary artworks for their Collection. The BA Collection has grown to over 1,500 pieces and includes works by prominent British artists such as Chris Ofili, Peter Doig, Anish Kapoor, Tracey Emin, Mark Titchner and Damien Hirst. Terminal 5 will see a re-hang of the collection including a striking painting by Peter Ellis, a number of classic Bridget Riley’s from the Egyptian series and one of Gary Hume’s most iconic pieces Tony Blackburn.