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Lighting Modern Buildings

Lighting Modern Buildings

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Published by Suhail Ahamed

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Published by: Suhail Ahamed on Jul 14, 2009
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Seventh century coffin carving (Studio E).

Plan of the undercroft (Studio E).

display therefore had to have a logical
sequence and at the same time satisfy the
needs of conservation.
The work, finished in 1998, took two
years to complete, in the hands of a
design team led by the Studio E.
Architects, which included historians,
archivists, the curatorial staff, graphic
designers, craftsmen, lighting consultants
and the Professor of Archaeology from
Durham University.
The main problem in lighting a display
of this significance is to maintain the low
light levels required for conservation
whilst at the same time creating the
impression for the visitor that the
artefacts are not dimly lit. One way to
achieve this is by adaptation, starting with
artefacts such as gold and silver metals
which can be highly illuminated and
gradually reducing the levels towards
those items such as embroideries,
mediaeval fabrics and manuscripts, where
the lowest light levels are mandatory.
Much use is made of edge-lit glass for
signs and historical information, and at
the front entrance back-lit panels create a
bright impression against a darker
background to meet the design brief for
an attractive entrance. The panels change
colour, running through a complete dawn
to dusk sequence.
For the displays themselves, each has a
lighting system designed to suit its specific
requirements. Graphics panels have
spotlights to their top, whilst well-shielded,
low-voltage spots are used to highlight
each artefact individually. The spots had
special filters designed to eliminate the
adverse effects of ultraviolet light.
The lighting of the gothic columns and
vaulting of the undercroft was achieved
using fibre optics set into the floor, light-
ing upwards to bring out the texture of
the stonework and to enliven the vaulting

The sequential experience of the
display is designed to reinforce the
notion of travelling back through time
starting with the brilliant seventeenth
century cathedral plate and returning by
stages to the earliest stages of the
Christian church with the centrepiece of
the coffin of Saint Cuthbert.

Case studies191

Architect:Studio E Architects;
Lighting Consultant:Sutton-Vane Associates

Exhibition entrance (Photography Studio E).

Detail to show the knocker (Photography
Studio E).

Coffin of Saint Cuthbert (Photography Studio E).

Built at the beginning of the 1990s, the
Harlequin Centre in Watford, designed
by architects Chapman Taylor Partners,
represents a combined daylight and artifi-
cial lighting strategy for an urban
shopping centre, built at a time when it
was more fashionable for large centres of
this kind to be located on the outside of

The site itself was restricted by exist-
ing street patterns, so that the orienta-
tion of the centre had to conform, whilst
at the same time the centre was required
to connect with an existing shopping
complex on an adjacent site.
The daylight strategy takes advantage
of the opportunity to use overhead roof
lights which are planned to infiltrate
natural light deep into the interior of the
building. The complex relationship of
levels and voids, which can be seen in the
accompanying sections, ensures that
daylight is available in all the public areas.
There is little doubt that the available
daylight creates spaces which are pleas-
ant, and which, because of the size of the
project, permit internal views which
make up for the lack of views out to
landscape at a distance. The spaces are
arranged in such a way that a visitor is

192Lighting Modern Buildings

Case study 45Harlequin Shopping Centre,Watford

Typical plans and sections, showing the
lighting design (DPA).

aware of his orientation, where he is and
the state of the sun and sky and can
enjoy natural colour and the associated
variation of environment due to the

The general artificial lighting at night
employs low-wattage, warm and cool
metal halide lamps in fittings recessed
into the suspended ceilings. These are
supplemented by decorative pole-
mounted lamps located around the edge
of voids, rather similar to the small-scale
street lamps used in urban pedestrian
areas. The recessed fittings are located in
groups to provide areas of focus and
avoid the more arid impression created
by an overall level of light. The underside
of certain voids were developed as
concealed light troughs, to soften the
contrast between natural and artificial

The tenants of the shops themselves
designed the artificial lighting which best
suited their merchandise, leading to an
infinite variety of solutions. It is this
variety, duplicating the original town high
street that makes the experience of this
type of shopping street most acceptable.
The artificial lighting is controlled by a
Building Energy Management System
(BEMS) designed to reduce the energy
use. The BEMS relates the level of artifi-
cial lighting to that required by the rise
and fall of daylight, ensuring that when
the building is unoccupied sufficient light
is employed for security, whilst cleaning
lights are used only at levels and in areas
for functional needs. An important
element of the overall strategy is that
there is a distinct variation between the
day and night ambience of the centre,
conforming to our normal experience of
day and night.

Case studies193

Architect:Chapman Taylor Partners;
Lighting Design:DPA Lighting Consultants

Daylit interior of the mall (Photography
Derek Phillips).

Night view of the light troughs (Photography
Derek Phillips).

Night view of the mall (Photography Derek Phillips).

The London showroom for the lighting
manufacturer, Erco Lighting Ltd, is both
an example of display lighting and the
display of lighting and it is successful on
both counts.
The architect Pierre Botschi recog-
nized that daylight is an essential ingredi-
ent of design, even when as here it is
available only at the front and rear of a
deep-plan London property.
On entering the showroom one is
confronted by a light void spanned by an
illuminated glass bridge leading into the
showroom beyond. The void allows
daylight to penetrate down to the lower
office level, where light is reinforced
where required by task lighting.
The main showroom in the centre of
the space is lit artificially by fittings
manufactured by the company. These act
both as a flexible lighting installation for a
variety of displays and as display of the
equipment itself. At the rear of the
property daylight is again welcomed as
each level of the building is connected to
a garden terrace beyond.
On entering the showroom the
impression is one of well daylit space
where the display of equipment is not
overwhelming, but which at the same
time is sufficient to demonstrate
adequately the manufacturer’s products.

194Lighting Modern Buildings

Case study 46Erco showroom,London

Section through showroom (Erco Lighting).

View across bridge to frontage at night (Photography Erco Lighting).

View to Verner Panton’s roundel with ship
display at the rear of the showroom
(Photography Derek Phillips).

Case studies195

Architect:Pierre Botschi;Lighting Design:Erco Lighting

View of the display of ‘The Victory’ during a
special exhibition of ships in the showroom in
1998 (Photography Derek Phillips).

The John Lewis store is sited on the
banks of the Thames at Kingston-upon-
Thames, Surrey. Designed by Ahrends
Burton & Koralek in the 1980s, the build-
ing was completed in 1993.
The lighting strategy for the building is
one of daylight during the day supple-
mented where necessary by artificial
sources. The goods displayed are
enhanced by the colour and variation of
daylight which reaches down through five
storeys from a 3200 square metre glazed
roof structure.
The roof consists of ‘solaglass’ double-
glazed units incorporating a capillary
diffusing layer of Okalux which reduces
the solar gain and ultraviolet transmis-
sion. A small section of clear roof glazing
at an angle of 45 degrees allows the
impression of sunlight to enter; control is
by electrically-operated helioscreen

The daylight is designed to provide a
minimum of 500 lux, and when the level
falls below this the computer-controlled
artificial lighting cuts in. The artificial
sources are 250 watt HQI lamps in
specially-designed reflectors.
The shop has all the attributes of a
daylit space, but some areas do not
receive daylight. In side areas special
transition zones have been planned in the
perimeter walkways. Here a reflective
floor surface and a high level of artificial
light help the visual transition from what
can be as much as 4000 lux of daylight on
the sales terraces to 500 lux below the
lower ceilings.
In an age where the tradition in large
stores had been for totally artificially-lit
interiors the John Lewis Store was ahead
of its time in satisfying the needs of the
environment in an energy conscious

To study the daylight and sunlight
penetration into the building the Austrian
consultant Friedrich Wagner constructed
a large-scale daylight model of a section
of the roof in Vienna; thus proving the
effectiveness of model studies over calcu-
lation techniques in some cases.

196Lighting Modern Buildings

Case study 47John Lewis store,Kingston-upon-Thames

Section to show daylighting (ABK)

Plan to show road way below building (Electrical Design, June 1993).

Exterior view from river (PhotographyDerek

Daylight view of the interior (Photography
Arup Associates).

Night-time view (Photography Derek Phillips).

Case studies197

Architect:Ahrends,Burton & Koralek (ABK);
Lighting Consultant:Friedrich Wagner,Vienna

The art gallery at Gamo-Gun Shiga in
Japan designed by architect Tadao Ando
is lit by daylight only and closes once
daylight fades at sunset. The architect
remembered an artist working after the
last war in conditions of natural light with
all its variety, and ceasing to paint once
the light had gone. So it was that when
asked to build a gallery for the work of
this artist many years later, he decided
that only natural light would do.
The gallery is built at the side of a lake,
with a curved façade that echoes the
shape of the lake. The façade consists of
a frosted glass curtain wall that delivers
changing light to the corridor beyond.
The main gallery located behind the
corridor is lit entirely by top lighting
from a circular arc in the roof. The
quantity and quality of natural light enter-
ing the gallery changes with the time of
day and the seasons, offering diverse
impressions of the exhibits where visitors
may obtain quite a different experience
on different trips to the gallery. This is
very evident from the views illustrated.
It has to be said that this approach
goes against the trend of modern art
galleries with their preoccupation with
preserving the works of art for posterity.
Such ideas of conservation have no place
here, the architect taking the view that
‘paintings are not to be suspended in
time, sealed and worshipped once the
artist applies the final stroke.’ This
approach would have been commonplace
in the seventeenth century, but it should
be borne in mind that many paintings of
the early periods have suffered in the
past from exposure to sun and day light,
and there is a balance to be struck.

Case study 48Daylight Museum,Japan

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