Lighting makeover for historic Willis building

THE HISTORIC Sir Norman Foster-designed Willis Towers Watson building in Ipswich, the UK’s youngest Grade One listed building,  has had an energy-efficient lighting makeover.

The project involved coordinated working between English Heritage and lighting supplier Clearvision to recreate the original lighting concept by Sir Norman Foster using modern lighting technologies and techniques.

Over 6,000 luminaires were installed in the office spaces, back of house areas, meeting rooms, corridors, toilets, canteen/hospitality and atrium at the Willis Towers Watson building in Ipswich.

The project involved coordinated working between English Heritage and lighting supplier Clearvision to recreate the original lighting concept by Sir Norman Foster using modern lighting technologies and techniques.

The client wanted to return areas of the buildings lighting to the original aesthetic and replace the office luminaires to efficient, easier to maintain luminaires.

The brief was simple but its implementation difficult. There were polished aluminium slatted ceilings supported by lighting troughs containing T8 fittings with polished chrome louvres.

The challenge was to create luminaires to improve lighting levels in line with modern guidance’s, reduce energy costs, carbon emissions and maintenance whilst meeting the aesthetic requirements.

In the canteen and hospitality areas and atrium, Clearvision re-created an old PAR 56 track luminaire used to highlight the brightly coloured walls of the building, give general lighting and provide colour change functionality for corporate events with a user-friendly controls interface.

Clearvision spent two years completing site surveys, multiple designs and luminaire testing, many lighting designs and on-site mock-ups.

Often redrawing old plans that were not representative of what was found in the building and making alterations to lighting distribution. Many cycles of testing and retesting took place to tweak luminaire performance.

Mechanical issues discovered meant the design of the luminaire was more difficult. A key issue being the weight of the fitting, requiring a completely bespoke fixing mechanism to suit existing fixing points; an air handling requirement discovered 6 months into our site surveys, exacerbated by the requirement of a diffuser in front of the light source to aid our louvres in glare reduction.

The projector track mounted luminaire required a diffuser and reflector system to control light in a similar way to a PAR lamp and a domed front.

This led Clearvision developing a new manufacturing process for the lens element. The lumen package needed to be very high with the light source relatively small to work optically and thermally, made worse when employing the RGBW element in some fittings.

The result was a building that met the aesthetic requirements of English Heritage, a reduced lighting load for the customer by over 50 per cent, enhanced light quality and reduced maintenance requirements.

 

Willis Towers Watson  maintenance chief Mark Nolloth told Lux: ‘Where the building was dark and mediocre from the old louvres, the spaces now feels bright, airy and a startling contrast from the old.

‘The controls interface for the Par 56 equivalent fittings in the restaurant area is very easy to use and allows us to create colour changing scenes for corporate events. The latter which has been very well received by our staff, which we could not have achieved without the Bluetooth network controls embedded into each fitting.’

Consultants on the project included Atelier Ten and Cushman & Wakefield.

 

  • Learn more about office lighting at the free-to-attend Lighting for Workplace and Wellbeing conference which takes place on Thursday 15 November at LuxLive 2018 at London ExCeL. The show itself runs on both Wednesday 14 November and Thursday 15 November 2018. Entry is free. To view the full programme of the Lighting for Workplace and Wellbeing conference, click HERE.

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