dn&co’s muted identity for London’s Smithson Plaza pays tribute to traditional stone carving
Husband-and-wife architect team Alison and Peter Smithson catapulted to architectural prominence after designing Hunstanton School in Norfolk and became known for their rejection of traditional modernist principles. In 1959, they won the competition to design the London home of the world-renowned Economist magazine.
They proposed demolishing a tall building on St James’s Street and radically replacing it with stairs and a ramp leading to a plaza. The competition entry was radically different to the lifeless office blocks that were the norm throughout the 50s, making it perfect for a forward-thinking client like The Economist. Soon after its completion in 1964, the plaza became a celebrated symbol of corporate grandeur thanks to its abundance of glass and Portland stone.
The iconic landmark has recently been renovated by DSDHA, also a husband-and-wife architect team, to create a new wave of offices, homes and retail spaces. London-based design consultancy dn&co was commissioned to produce the visual identity for the reimagined building, now known as Smithson Plaza.
The new identity is intentionally restrained and celebrates the Smithsons’ original vision of the ‘plaza’ as an open public space fit for a thriving community. At its core is Monotype’s Albertus Nova, chosen to represent a modern spin on the traditional stone carving found on the original building. The colour and material palette pay tribute to the texture and natural tones of the Portland stone and steel of the physical site, further conveying a sense of timeless elegance and permanence.
Typeface: Albertus Nova by Monotype