Carnaby’s Vibrant and Intense Facade


Achieving a façade of unique character with an intensity of colour and was critical to this bold and colourful design for Kingly Street and Foubert’s Place in Carnaby, Soho.

The striking design sits comfortably in its context and is accentuated by careful detailing and an infusion of colour to highlight and illuminate. Different colour combinations are used for each street elevation, conveying a subtly different environment which in turn evokes a subtly different architectural response.


The facade design is all about scale and rhythm in the context of the site’s immediate environs; however the challenge was to develop a vibrant architectural language which responded and enhanced the fun and vitality that is at the very heart of this fashionable area.

The material chosen to bring the project to life is glazed lava stone, born from primordial magma and cut from the quarries of extinct volcanoes. The durable stone is a building material used for many hundreds of years to construct cathedrals, monuments or ornamentation. Today, it is also used for worktops and bathroom basins. Its natural colour is subtle tones of grey but it can be enamelled to any colour imaginable. During the firing process, the enamel becomes liquid, flowing over the edges to leave a darker finishing line which is an inherent characteristic of the glazing.



We visited the Pyrolave factory in Castelsarrasin, France to see the cutting and manufacturing process. The Pyrolave lava slabs here are primarily extracted from the Natural Park of the Auvergne Volcanos. Two formats are used for the façade, glazed bricks of different sizes which are traditionally laid using brickwork support angles and ties and glazed cladding panels which are tied back to the supporting frame behind.

It was apparent from our visit the material has a quality of immediate impact and so was the perfect choice to realise this bold design.