Find the Light


Lighting has the power to transform a space – whether it be private or public, indoor or outdoor – Jill Entwistle explores the impact of lighting design


LAUNCHED LAST YEAR, the Build Back Better Awards reflect the general acknowledgement that as the world faces countless calamities and cock-ups it would be worthwhile trying to do it better next time. We can only hope.

The BBB Awards are a broad church in terms of their ambition ‘to help accelerate innovation, technology and design change in the built environment’, encompassing everything from HVAC and modular construction through to energy management, the IoT and UV systems. It also encompasses initiatives, platforms and business models, as well as the more usual projects and products. Lighting, an integral and crucial part of the design environment, as well as energy consumer (in use and manufacture), is an important category. The following are this year’s winners in the projects category. Build Back Better Gold is for ‘projects which exhibit true innovation and unique points of difference’, while the Platinum award ‘is for exceptional exemplars with the potential to transform and disrupt their sector’.


OLYMPIC WAY, LONDON
LIGHTING DESIGN Speirs Major
AWARD Platinum

Olympic Way is a scheme to transform the after-dark experience of the journey between London’s Wembley Park tube station and Wembley Stadium. The lighting element, fundamental to the radical revamp, was part of the competition-winning design by architect Dixon Jones and landscape designer Gross Max. The route, just over a kilometre, comprises three elements: Olympic Way (the main boulevard), Bobby Moore Bridge (the gateway to Wembley Park station), and Steps and Undercroft (the gateway to Wembley Stadium).

The starting point for the lighting concept was the original masterplan developed by Speirs Major for New Wembley a decade earlier. The lighting had to be flexible to suit the requirements of the changing density of users, which fluctuated widely according to the occasion. Higher lighting levels were needed for the vast crowds to navigate their way safely and securely on high-profile football match days, but lower, more intimate levels were more appropriate for the smaller numbers of visitors, shoppers and residents who use the route throughout the year.

At the heart of the scheme is a multi-purpose bespoke column that provides several tailored lighting distributions. Each creates an appropriate atmosphere while meeting the lighting standards required for a particular day or occasion. To make them an even more useful component, they are engineered to support up to one tonne of equipment, enabling them to carry digital banners that provide fully immersive live content for marketing, promotion and particular events.

Designed in close collaboration with the architects, their sleek lines belie their immense technical infrastructure. At 13.5m tall, each column holds a lit banner and supports five different projector types along a 4.5m outreach arm. Each of the projector types has a unique optic, determined according to detailed lighting calculations and testing. Although all projectors remain on after dark to ensure the lighting doesn’t look faulty, the balance of distribution for each day or occasion is carefully contrived.

The optic that controls the downlighting to the banners doubles up to deliver rhythmic pools of light beneath each column. At the stadium end, the original ‘pedway’ was demolished to make way for a more elegant terrace of steps connecting two new plazas top and bottom. The steps and plazas are lit from rows of projectors mounted vertically on 16m and 12m tall masts respectively.

Beneath the steps, a new public space is flooded with natural light from a series of roof lights. Integrated fixtures cross light the inclined internal surfaces, reflecting light down into the space, boosted by additional downlighting. From the plaza above, the disc-shaped domes of the roof appear to glow, gently animating the scene.

At the station end, residents and visitors pass beneath Bobby Moore Bridge when arriving and departing. A high-definition media advertising screen on the fascia at each end had already been stipulated by the client. With this in mind Speirs Major explored ways in which the screens could be incorporated into a lighting design that would transform what had been a neglected and unwelcoming environment into a positive experience.

The result was that the entire underpass was turned into a medium for dynamic content, with additional low-resolution media screens on the walls and illuminated slots in the ceiling. ‘The wrap-around effect creates the sensation that an abstracted version of the media content is flowing into the tunnel,’ says Speirs Major. ‘The content becomes a form of light art that envelops users, a holistic design that successfully incorporates the advertising into an immersive brand experience.’

While the Olympic Way project was phased and delivered over time, all three components of the scheme not only work as individual spaces but also combine to work as whole. ‘The dynamic, innovative and flexible lighting project has ensured that everyone who engages with the area benefits from an exceptional public realm experience after dark as well as by day,’ says Speirs Major.

Client: Quintain
Architect: Dixon Jones
Landscape: Gross Max
People/crowd movement consultant: Movement Strategies
Artist: Tom and Miriam
Main suppliers: Urbis Schreder, ewo Lighting, Stoane Lighting, LightLab, Pharos


BATH ABBEY, BATH
LIGHTING DESIGN Michael Grubb Studio
AWARD Platinum

Bath Abbey is the latest cathedral to be rehabilitated for the 21st century with a scheme that not only celebrates its architectural features, but provides the flexible lighting needed for both its services and the programme of secular and performance events that modern religious venues typically host. The Bath Abbey Footprint project is a historic L19.3m programme of restoration work designed to provide sustainable solutions for the contemporary needs of the abbey.

The works, led by FCB Studios, have involved stabilising the subsiding floor, installing a sustainable underfloor heating system powered by hot spa water, and the documentation, repair and relaying of the 2400 stones in total, which pave the floor, including nearly 900 ledger stones. There has also been an extensive programme of archaeology,

For the lighting concept, the choice of warm, white light introduces an inviting and intimate ambience to the soaring and potentially intimidating space of the interior. Luminaires are installed in a hierarchy of locations. High-level lighting positioned below the clerestory windows is designed to pick out the crowns and delicate profiles of the fan vaulting that the abbey is famous for. Mid-level lights reveal the Bath Stone forms of the perpendicular gothic window tracery and vaults of the side aisles.

Image Credit: REPORTERS / BELIRIS
Image Credit: REPORTERS / BELIRIS

The numerous Georgian wall memorials are illuminated by further luminaires located in the side aisles and transepts, which also highlight important tombs. The cast iron Victorian chandeliers have also been adapted to incorporate new low energy LED luminaires.

Image Credit: REPORTERS / BELIRIS
Image Credit: REPORTERS / BELIRIS

The entire lighting system was upgraded and operates using a new DMX lighting control system, which allows each LED source to be individually controlled. This delivers an infinite amount of flexibility and the opportunity to animate lighting during services or for special events.

Architect: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
M&E engineer: Buro Happold
Structural engineer: Mann Williams
Conservation: SSHC
Project manager: Synergy
Main contractor: Emery Builders
Archaeology: Wessex Archaeology


CINQUANTENAIRE ARCADE, BRUSSELS
LIGHTING DESIGN ACTLD
AWARD Gold Green

The Cinquantenaire Arcade, a historical monument built in 1880 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Belgian Revolution, had superannuated, inefficient lighting that dated back to the 1970s. ACTLD not only wanted to create a lower-energy scheme (which is not difficult given the 500W and 1000W per light/lamp of the old one) but greater visual precision, highlighting its classical style ‘in a play of contrasts and tones between interior and exterior, as well as reinforcing the depth and perspective of this architectural masterpiece and increasing its visual impact’.

Image Credit: REPORTERS / BELIRIS
Image Credit: REPORTERS / BELIRIS

A temporary partnership between the Jean-Pierre Majot Urban Planning Studio, ACTLD and Vitech was established to develop a new lighting plan, providing it with three lighting scenes (morning, dusk and night).


SHOP-HOUSES, AGISGAR.UR, ICELAND
LIGHTING DESIGN Verkis
AWARD Gold

Located on a wharf in the old harbour of Reykjavik, six wooden houses were designed to replace a cluster of run-down sheds used as ticket offices for whale-watching and sightseeing trips. The project is part of an urban planning initiative to make the old harbour more appealing for the public and attract more restaurants, shops and other services.

Image Credit: DARÍO NUNEZ (VERKÍS) / YRKI
Image Credit: DARÍO NUNEZ (VERKÍS) / YRKI

Responsible for both indoor and outdoor lighting, Verkís wanted to unify the visual effects provided by both so that the resulting nightscape is always affected by the luminosity from the shop-houses. Interior ceilings are illuminated to highlight the architecture and provide a welcoming glow for pedestrians outside. A discreet system of universal tracks gives each tenant the ability to create their own ambience, while the overall scene is defined and unified by the consistent indirect general lighting. Integrated light details were added into furniture to provide functional task lighting.

The location of street light poles are visually discreet, carefully coordinated with that of the shop-houses to create a coherent rhythm of elements. The intensity and light distribution from all outdoor light sources ensure light pollution and trespass are minimised. Sources are addressable and prepared for future smart lighting control systems.

Lighting suppliers: Meyer Lighting, iGuzzini


SHARJAH MOSQUE, UAE
LIGHTING DESIGN Light Concept
AWARD Gold

Sharjah Mosque is the second largest mosque in the UAE. The lighting is designed to create a strong connection between the outdoor and indoor spaces, preserving and accentuating the building’s architectural and religious values. It also articulates the striking and frequently photographed architecture.

Image Credit: KHACHO DEMERGIANA
Image Credit: KHACHO DEMERGIANA

Image Credit: KHACHO DEMERGIANA
Image Credit: KHACHO DEMERGIANA

Light and shadow are carefully balanced while different colour temperatures between 2500K to 3000K are used to add depth and definition, especially on the facades.

Image Credit: KHACHO DEMERGIANA
Image Credit: KHACHO DEMERGIANA

A control system, with a range of different scenes, is used for indoor, facade and landscape lighting. A major challenge in the project was the prohibition of any bulky or protuberant lighting fixtures. Light Concept also minimised any lighting pollution and achieved a maximum power density of just 0.08W per square metre.

Lighting suppliers: Linealight, iGuzzini, Heper, Filix Lighting


VARIEGATION INDEX, 20 TRITON STREET, LONDON
LIGHTING DESIGN Jason Bruges Studio
AWARD Gold

An interactive digital artwork, Variegation Index is a response to a brief from British Land to revitalise the lobby of an office building, creating a more inviting, social environment to encourage the general public to enter and use the space. The resulting artwork uses biomimicry to blur the boundary between public and private space, and explore ‘the link between nature and wellbeing’. JBS have a long history of creating artworks that take inspiration from the natural world but this its first artwork to directly incorporate living material.

Based on the concept of plants giving feedback to their environment through photosynthesis, it features 293 digital ‘plant cells’ which cascade across the wall above pots of real plants. Inspired by NDVI (normalised difference vegetation index) cameras – a specialised system that farmers use to monitor the health of their crops – the plants placed below the artwork are discreetly ‘observed’.

Image Credit: JAMES MEDCRAFT
Image Credit: JAMES MEDCRAFT

JBS’s customised version of the camera combines infrared and RGB light to measure chlorophyll levels within the leaves. This information is then translated into a dual-perspective, real-time data visualisation that appears as an oscillating language of light and numbers across the cellular canvas within the lobby.

The movement of light signifies the transfer of energy and nutrients in the leaves and visibly swings between a vivid, fast display in bright daylight and a dim, slower pattern that occurs during grey spells and at night. ‘Making the invisible process of photosynthesis visible, the artwork deepens our connection with plants and breathes life into the lobby,’ says JBS.


JØRPELANDSHOLMEN ISLAND, NORWAY
LIGHTING DESIGN Light Bureau
AWARD Green

Previously disused farmland, and earmarked by the local authority as a tourist destination, the island of Jorpelandsholmen was an exercise in how little light is actually needed to make a landscape both beautiful and functional.

Following the construction in 2017 of a connecting pedestrian bridge, landscape architect Anita Ellefsen Hus masterminded a 2.1km nature walk around the island. ‘Designing lighting for an island that had previously been unlit was a rare opportunity to explore how little light one needs to make the experience of the walk a magical experience after dark,’ says Light Bureau.

Image Credit: ARVE OLSEN / KRISTOFER RYDE
Image Credit: ARVE OLSEN / KRISTOFER RYDE

The scheme involved developing bespoke fixtures with a reduced light output and highly shielded sources. Their light is balanced visually against the night sky to avoid glare and keep light levels low, allowing views across the fjord to remain intact. Tree-mounted spotlights accent key, but otherwise inaccessible parts of the landscape. Post-top luminaires, in a dimmed-down state illuminate areas of the path densely populated by trees.

Image Credit: ARVE OLSEN / KRISTOFER RYDE
Image Credit: ARVE OLSEN / KRISTOFER RYDE

The restrained use of light has resulted in a low power consumption. The lighting for the path uses 575W in its dimmed state, less than 0.3W per metre.
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