Let There Be Lighting: Designing a super-prime light show on the Southbank

The latest prime London scheme by the Canary Wharf Group and Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company, Southbank Place is a mixed-use development situated opposite the London Eye, with...
Bespoke crystal chandelier from Preciosa Lighting, designed and commissioned by Goddard Littlefair

The latest prime London scheme by the Canary Wharf Group and Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company, Southbank Place is a mixed-use development situated opposite the London Eye, with some really quite exceptional views across the river Thames to Whitehall.

DesignPlusLight worked in conjunction with interior designer Goddard Littlefair to light the rooms of the Grade II* listed marketing suite in the County Hall building, adjacent to Westminster bridge, in the former private offices of the GLC and the headquarters for The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

DesignPlusLight (DPL) was briefed by Goddard Littlefair to design a bespoke architectural lighting scheme with the level of luxury and finesse that would instantly communicate the quality of the finishes in the final development. Goddard Littlefair designed the decorative chandeliers in the project, with specialist advice from DPL to ensure that they used the latest in energy-efficient lighting.

DPL created a high-end, luxury lighting scheme to enhance the journey and connect the entrance reception, through to the meeting rooms, display pods and finally into the sample suites. The heritage-listed building was brought back to its original state and new features were added that would seamlessly integrate with the historic fabric of the building.

Entrance to the Southbank Place marketing suite in County Hall

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”Sanjit Bahra, Project Director  and founder of DesignPlus Light” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”14″]“Our whole design ethos is to create layers of light that collectively enhance the perception of space and communicate an instant feel of exclusivity. Good architectural lighting should always compliment, but never take precedence over the interior design. We were extremely mindful of the heritage elements of the building from the outset, and this proved to be one of the most challenging aspects of the project. By working closely with the site engineers and design team, we were able to find creative solutions to illuminate each space.”[/pullquote]

DesignPlusLight stressed the importance of using an architectural lighting control system on the entire project so that all the lighting elements could be carefully balanced to create mood settings. Given the nature of the building, installing mood lighting was a challenge as not all of the cable routes in such an old building were known. DPL proposed a wireless control system by Rako Lighting that enabled the existing wiring to be utilised and expanded upon to create multiple circuits within each room. Lighting was integrated into joinery pieces to bring layers of light into each space. Careful attention was made to keep each element unique to enhance the journey through the marketing suite. As artwork was a passion for the client, the joinery elements created the perfect lighting display opportunity.

Existing ceiling points were re-used in the refurbished entrance reception, and the fluorescent bulkheads were replaced with bespoke decorative chandeliers to give immediate sparkle and glamour to the space. A new reception desk was designed with vertical lines of LED light carefully detailed within the metal folds, offering a glimpse of the structure within. Discrete surface spotlights concealed within the ceiling coffers provide a focus onto the stone fireplace and clock. The window treatments of sheers and curtains were highlighted with a halo of light emanating from the head of the pelmet, softly lighting the display plinths below.

A bespoke six metre crystal chandelier from Preciosa Lighting (pictured below), designed and commissioned by Goddard Littlefair, was hung in the stairwell to emphatically draw the visitor up towards the first floor. 16 interlinking rings of light, supported from five storeys above, cascade down the central stairwell, sparking and shimmering as you ascend. The existing fluorescent landing bulkheads were covered with parchment shades to soften their appearance and to provide a warm domestic like light.

Bespoke crystal chandelier from Preciosa Lighting, designed and commissioned by Goddard Littlefair

DesignPlusLight created a sense of arrival on the first floor landing by up-lighting the arch reveal above the door header, and by illuminating specialist eglomisée panels either side. These reflected the light from the chandelier to provide further sparkle.

Visitors are taken into the reception room where they are welcomed and shown brochures of the development. A stunning chandelier anchors the visual attention to the centre whilst custom designed cabinet pieces frame the four corners of the room. These have a multi-purpose function, serving both as display pieces as well as housing the heating and A/C mechanics required for the space. DPL worked closely with the interior designer to integrate a flush line of light to frame each cabinet. Individual display recesses were lit with under-shelf lights. LED up-lights were concealed in the top of the cabinets to provide reflected light into the space. As a result, only a few surface spots were required to light key artwork pieces.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”Sanjit Bahra, Project Director” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”14″]“The central chandelier should never provide more than a decorative glow, so it’s particularly important, in listed buildings, to consider how to bring light into the space”[/pullquote]

The boardroom with chandelier by Tom DixonThe second closing room, formerly Ken Livingstone’s office

A boardroom features a custom-created black raindrop chandelier by Tom Dixon (pictured above on the left). The stunning light hangs down from the ceiling in perfect balance with the bespoke joinery pieces.

The show suite features two closing rooms representing the height of luxury and finesse within the new project. Both rooms feature refurbished timber panelling and custom joinery pieces that have a multi-functional capacity. Both feature custom-designed chandeliers with surface spotlights carefully concealed adjacent to the chandelier rose to light the fireplace and artwork. Smaller cabinets were designed as drinks cabinets, lit with concealed LED strip lights that provide a warm reflected light into the space.

The second closing room (picture above on the right), which once served as Ken Livingstone’s office, is the grandest room in the suite and serves as a representation of the later phase of the development. The high bay window offers a magnificent aspect of Big Ben and is perfectly framed with curtains, softly lit with LED strip-lights concealed behind the pelmet. Plug-in up-lights illuminate the fireplace surround whilst the occasional surface spotlight lights key artwork pieces.

An integrated corridor links the u-shaped 1,207 square metre suite rooms. The original timber panelling within the corridor was removed and meticulously restored, giving DPL the ideal opportunity to bring cables up the walls without damaging the fabric of the building. LED strip-lights were concealed to the top of the pilasters so as to up-light the vaulted arches and create a sense of rhythm along each corridor. At each junction, mini LED spotlights were concealed behind specially-made plaster mouldings to highlight cross-vaults and punctuate the end of each corridor. The existing fluorescent pendants – once the sole form of lighting within the space – were replaced with decorative glass and parchment lanterns. These could not be dimmed, as they were the emergency lights to the space, so DPL recommended low energy LED candle lamps that enhance the room with a soft glow.

The linking corridor

A series of exhibition rooms overlook the Thames, where potential buyers can view the individual elements of the development with scale models and information panels. The lighting approach was kept consistent to ensure a sense of continuity across the exhibition space, juxtaposing the original listed panelling with the contemporary models to great effect, creating a mood of sumptuous elegance throughout.

Exhibition room


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