Light and Tech: Lighting entries at the Surface Design Awards

Four contenders for the lighting category at this year’s Surface Design Awards illustrate the interaction between light and surface in a variety of ways

Given the essential relationship between lighting and materials, it has been encouraging to see the growing emphasis on the lighting side of the transaction at the Surface Design Show. The Light School element, organised by the Institution of Lighting Professionals, has now been an integral part of the show for some years, as has the lighting category of the Surface Design Awards. What is interesting is how that category has burgeoned since its introduction. The following four schemes, two exterior and two interior, are all among this year’s contenders and illustrate in a variety of ways that crucial interaction between light and surface.

University of Sheffield Concourse

Arup designed the lighting at this concrete viaduct, which supports a dual-carriageway at the University Of Sheffield concourseArup designed the lighting at this concrete viaduct, which supports a dual-carriageway at the University Of Sheffield concourse

Adjacent to the Students’ Union, the concourse is divided by a 50-year-old concrete viaduct (designed by Arup in the 1960s) supporting a dual-carriageway above. As is inevitable with spaces in the lee of concrete flyovers it wasn’t an attractive proposition, and over the years became a no-man’s land that people passed through rather than lingering in.

Lighting has frequently been used in these contexts to create a transformative but non-structural intervention. Here it has injected enormous warmth and vitality, resulting in a multi-use plaza to encourage students and the public to sit and relax. In the spirit of the brutalist architecture, the scheme is strong and simple in concept. The aim was to accentuate the clean lines and textures of the structures while creating a vibrant atmosphere. ‘Much of the success of the project has been in the detailing of the complex interfaces not visible to the casual observer,’ says Arup.

Each face has been treated as an individual element to be in light or shade. The structure was considered as four elements: inner and outer soffits, and inner and outer surfaces. These surfaces are accentuated with bold colours, carefully selected to provide contrast between different planes and complement materials.

The saturated colours are balanced with soft white light, designed to help with wayfinding and remove areas of deep shadow, contributing to an increased sense of safety and security. The area around the bridge is lit using building-mounted luminaires focused along the main routes. Trees are uplit and additional lighting has been integrated into benches to define the boundaries of the concourse. By installing a DMX merger switch, the Students’ Union events team can connect to a mixing desk and turn the viaduct into an external venue, and staff can select various preset scenes, balancing the use of white light and colour, to celebrate specific events.

‘Together, the lighting works with the existing materials, form and space to create a sense of place and revitalise this important area at the heart of the campus,’ says Arup.

Client: University of Sheffield
Designer/architect: HLM Architects
Contractor: Henry Boot

Hi Tech & Digital Centre, South Devon College

Another academic project, the new centre at South Devon College, has been designed to provide additional capacity to meet the growing demand in hi-tech engineering, digital and creative media, and computing. The scheme is part of a wider masterplan, situated on a former factory and centred within the overall main college campus in Paignton. The centre comprises two linear teaching blocks, each three storeys in height and linked together by an atrium ‘street’.

Lighting design consultancy Michael Grubb Studio with LHC Architects to create a dynamic exterior scheme for the building facade, which features a curved and perforated, bronze-finished, aluminium brise-soleil. This sits above the glazed, ground-floor entrance, spanning from first to third floor level. Blank cassette panels were used at the base of the brise-soleil to conceal RGB LED luminaires. Located between the Euroclad panel facade and brise-soleil, the luminaires were designed to enhance the building fabric and provide impact at night.

‘The lighting scheme was [designed to] enhance the architecture beyond the daylight hours, encourage movement, create a distinctive lit environment, and showcase the creative technological purpose of the new building,’ says Michael Grubb. The relationship between the lighting and the facade colour was crucial, and it was decided that for maximum lighting impact the panel facade needed to be 9010 RAL white.

Various lighting prototypes were trialled before the final solution. Given the proximity to the sea, the facade, exposed structure and lighting equipment had to have an industrial-grade marine coating to protect against the harsh coastal environment. Particular consideration – the use of specially developed coping and cassette panels – was also given to the installation of the perforated facade and luminaires to ensure nesting birds did not become trapped or endangered.

Designed sequences are programmed to control the individually addressable light fittings. This animates the perforated facade and structural fins in a range of colours and themes. As well as its aesthetic and semiotic functions, the facade system also has a practical purpose: the control system is designed to educate students about lighting control programming.

Client: South Devon College
Designer/architect: LHC Design
Contractor: Architainment

Treasured Mansion, Shandong, China

The clubhouse for a residential community, Treasured Mansion is a two-storey building with facilities including a cafeteria, tea house, reading room, library, yoga space, gym, swimming pool and children’s learning area. In the treatment of the interior, Kris Lin International Design (KLID) has essentially fused light and surface together. ‘We tried to design a flexible space with lines of light,’ says Kris Lin. ‘The curving light lines combine into a luminous elevation, and we put the ceiling and wall together to form a complete space of light.’

KLID used 3D modelling to determine the size, dimension and height of the light lines, as well as the ergonomics. ‘We also considered controlling the cost, and used economical materials such as lamp film to realise this design,’ says Lin.

With a high degree of glazing in the entrance area and elsewhere, the artificial light is balanced with daylight, and together with the pale materials used creates an airy, spacious feel despite relatively low ceilings in certain areas. Viewed from the outside, there is a remarkable sense of cohesion to the scheme. ‘The luminous ceiling is also reflected on the building’s facade, forming a visual focus,’ says Lin.

Client: Cifi Group
Contractor: Cifi Group

Daylit Courtyard, Yashoda Cancer Hospital

At 4,645 sq m across six floors, Yashoda is a small cancer hospital on the outskirts of New Delhi. The central lobby space sits at the centre of patient rooms on two levels, with an open-to-sky courtyard as the focal point. An art room for patients is located adjacent to the courtyard. The courtyard also acts as the backdrop to nurse stations on both floors. A combination of hanging glass panels – Saint-Gobain glass with 3M films – create a light well full of colourful shadows within the core of the hospital. The result is playful and animating, but also subtle and peaceful.

‘Such interactions of inhabitants with light, shadows and colours became the highlight of the design concept, which is to heal through interventions of nature with the built environment,’ say Ankita Sweety and Pratyoosh Chandan, co-creators at Studio An-V-Thot Architects. The pair add that the surface interactions change and evolve throughout the day with the sun’s movement. 

Client: Dr Rajat Arora
Contractor: Yashoda in-house team

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