Flight - CODAworx


Submitted by Cinimod Studio Ltd

Client: Itsu

Location: London, United Kingdom

Completion date: 2016

Project Team


Cinimod Studio




Commissioned as a celebration of Itsu’s move to a bigger space within Heathrow, the brief was to create an ambitious intervention within Terminal 5 that would transcend the split-level arrangement of the terminal building. Captivating its audience with an impressive presence and visual identity makes the restaurant instantly recognisable upon entering the terminal. The design plays with Itsu’s core brand icon; the butterfly, while sympathetically enhancing the elegant interior design of the restaurant below with vibrant use of light and colour. Cinimod continue their original concept for Itsu by conveying the motion of a butterfly as it travels through space.


The brief was to create height but not obstruct views, to impress but keep to a tight budget and to integrate with the restaurant below, but to not compromise on the number of restaurant covers. To do this the studio designed a lightweight structure of tensile steel ropes that were suspended above the restaurant in a way that minimised any impact on the number of seats available below. Tensioned between a dramatic 12 metre cantilevered mast and the main restaurant canopy, the installation conveys the motion of a rabble of butterflies as they fly. A total of seventy-two dichroic butterflies hang stretching over the space they collectively create a canopy above the restaurant.
Each of the butterfly wings are covered in dichroic film that reflects light onto the ceiling and shimmers down to the diners below, creating a dramatic colour shift that is dependent on the location of the viewer.
Individually addressable, lighting control content was programmed to create ripples of light through the installation creating a fluctuation of pre-set light levels through the butterflies. Programmed across the day it gives a sense of movement and energy to the otherwise static structure.


Appointed for design, build and commissioning on site Cinimod were responsible for refining the overall design and worked together with Tall Engineers to establish cutting-edge details that delivered the proposed design with finesse and accuracy. The selection of materials was carefully considered achieving a sophisticated and highly innovative engineered design. The steel mast, at 12 metres in length, is angled on a steel base plate to achieve a cantilevered canopy extending up into the terminal’s double height atrium, ensuring the installation is visible from all angles. Six steel tensile cables fixed between the mast and canopy allow each butterfly to be suspended at height.
Working on site with rigging specialists Vertex Access, the feature was fully installed, inclusive of all structural elements, decorative butterfly elements, lighting fixtures, cabling and control unit. The design is another step in innovation for Cinimod Studio, with the form parametrically engineered by Cinimod in close collaboration with Tall Engineers.

Additional Information

Weight considerations meant that edge lit lighting had a detrimental effect on the size and weight of structural elements, hindering the elegance of the structural design. As such each of the 72 polycarbonate butterflies were illuminated by a single remote phosphor LED baton concealed at the back of each butterfly. Due to the need for addressability and minimal cabling, a constant current solution created individual addressability, without compromising on the aesthetic. Providing lighting from the centre of the butterfly’s body outwards, the patterned film catches light and enhances the colour of the dichroic film when seen at an angle.