Light and Tech: FX Awards 2019 Lighting winners

This year’s winners of the FX awards lighting categories included opening up the Royal Opera House and a minimal multifunctional luminaire system

Category: Lighting Design


Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London
By StudioFractal

Shortlisted Projects:

No. 1 Courtyard in Guangzhou Road, Heze, Beijing
by Beijing Puri Lighting Design

The Langley
by DPA Lighting

Hydropower St Anton
by Herward Dunkel

Instanbul Airport
by Hoare Lea

Beecroft Building
by Hoare Lea

Head Above Water
by Hoare Lea

Light Cube
by Kris Lin International Design

Self-Portrait flagship store
by Lichtvision

KL Sports City
by Limelight Atelier

Center St Parking Garage
by Marcy Wong Donn Logan

Yee Chino
by Yeung Home Lighting

With the allegation of elitism constantly thrown at cultural institutions it is not surprising that their frequent design injunction when refurbishing or remodelling nowadays is to make the building more welcoming and accessible. Such is the case with London’s Royal Opera House, which has come in for a fair share of criticism over the decades.

This double-height foyer was part of the £51m makeover of London’s Royal Opera House by architect Stanton Williams. Image credit: James Newton.This double-height foyer was part of the £51m makeover of London’s Royal Opera House by architect Stanton Williams. Image credit: James Newton.

In fact, it went as far as dubbing its recent £51m makeover by architect Stanton Williams the Open Up project. The scheme completely reconfigured the venue’s ground floor, creating an expanded foyer with a new cafe and enlarged shop (the latter by interiors studio Drinkall Dean) and providing access from two redesigned entrances. The new Bow Street entrance pavilion provides an external terrace to the Paul Hamlyn Hall and contains a double-height foyer leading down to the new Linbury Theatre and Foyer. At the upper level, Stanton Williams and Studio Linse created a new restaurant with views over Covent Garden. It allows the public to access the main circulation spaces of one of the world’s pre-eminent cultural institutions for the first time.

‘The Open Up project does just that, by opening up what had previously been a fairly constrained set of spaces to the world outside,’ says Alan Stanton, principal director of Stanton Williams. ‘The Bow Street extension presents a welcoming public face to the building while the expanded and interlinked foyer spaces breathe new energy into front-of-house areas.’

The restructuring is all designed ‘to make the Royal Opera House London’s newest daytime destination’, says its chief executive Alex Beard. ‘Open every day from 10am, we want as many people as possible to experience our art forms and get a taste of the remarkable creativity at play here.’

The lighting scheme was massive and comprehensive, with a brief to match this ambition. ‘The lighting strategy from the outset was to reinforce the client’s aspirations to be more visible and welcoming,’ says Tim Downey, MD of the lighting designers StudioFractal, ‘and to complement and enhance the architectural vision of creating lightness and space.’

The remit covered the Open Up areas, as well as a new scheme for the Paul Hamlyn Hall and an exterior lighting design, both late additions to the scope.

A series of lighting techniques, integrated where possible, complement the changing spaces and varying materials. The aim was to create a cohesive series of flowing, interlinked spaces that would still convey a variety of different atmospheres according to their purpose.

‘A really interesting element of the project was using light to help create different feelings within each major space, and it is a classic example of how visible and invisible light fittings work together,’ says Downey. ‘The main lobby had a lot of daylight, so we integrated tunable white linear lighting into the ceiling coffers to create a bright, welcoming experience that changes colour according to the time of day and when the performances occur.’

There was a deliberate use of light to wash selected ceiling and wall surfaces ‘to help reduce visual contrast by day and encourage exploration’, says Downey. ‘By night, subtly changing lighting intensities lower lighting levels and help create refined and elegant pre-theatre, dinner and post-theatre settings.’

Historical elements were brought to light for the first time – the scheme for the Paul Hamlyn Hall now reveals the intricate Victorian ironwork, for example. Discreet spotlights highlight the tables and integrated lighting delineates the movable bar.

Bespoke lighting for the project included contemporary theatre projectors in the main foyer; glass risers illuminating the sweeping staircase up to the Paul Hamlyn Hall; period-themed restaurant terrace lanterns; and contemporary pendants in the Linbury Foyer bar.

All lighting was a mixture of 2700K, 3000K and 6000K 90CRI LED sources. A programmable lighting control system for the main public spaces and Linbury Foyer allows full theatrical control.

The exterior scheme involved all six facades, pulling them together with a common lit theme. ‘The lighting identifies and celebrates a vertical rhythm, drawing all facades together into a recognisable identity,’ says Downey.

The FX Awards Judges said: ‘Classic challenges executed beautifully with consistency from inside to outside’

Category: Lighting Product


Vault Light System
By Fourmation / Ateljé Lyktan

Shortlisted Products

by Arkoslight

by Arkoslight

Zero Track
by Flos Architectural
by Atrium

The Woodwave
by Nulty Bespoke


Whether it’s a matter of installation, maintenance, operation or just pure aesthetics, simplicity and flexibility are often the key to the best light fittings.

Just three components make up the Vault light system: opal acrylic glass light bars, connection blocks and power blocks. The light bars easily slot into the connection and power blocks, and the system allows for a wide array of configurations.

Having noticed a need for a lighting solution that could be easily installed without altering the interior space it occupies – a completely modular, multifunctional system that could be assembled with minimal main components – London-based creative agency Fourmation came up with the idea for Vault.

It developed the concept in-house and then searched for a technical partner. ‘With a great reputation for being a progressive, experimental company and embracing new concepts and ideas, Ateljé Lyktan was the perfect collaborator,’ says the company. Ironically, despite working with a number of leading designers, including Snøhetta, this was the first time the Swedish firm had been involved in a design collaboration outside Scandinavia.

Each Vault block – available in a wide range of colours to suit different projects – has connections for up to four light bars, which ‘is the starting point for what is possible’, says Fourmation, which envisages it as being ideal for both retail and office spaces. ‘It gives users more control over their lighting environment, and enables architects and interior designers to create their own concepts without being restricted by the space the system occupies.’

Available in three standard lengths, 1200mm, 1800mm and 2400mm, the light profiles can be connected to illuminate both up and down, or inwards to create very different light variations. In fact, there is potential for quite a lot of experimentation with options such as colour-changing and light animation functions, as well as the 3000K and 4000K colour temperature light bars. The grid can also be used in conjunction with acoustic tiles or stretched fabric panels as backlighting.

The FX Awards Judges said: ‘Simple and effective design to meet a range of requirements that are otherwise difficult to achieve’


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