Arup’s lighting plan to breathe life into landmarks

TOP ENGINEERING consultancy Arup has unveiled a new approach to illuminating heritage buildings and landmarks.

The framework was developed by Arup’s team of lighting experts while working on the restoration of Manchester Town Hall

The guidance, called Rediscovering Heritage Lighting, contains a six-step framework to inform the internal and external lighting design of heritage buildings, from survey through to strategy.

The process can be tailored to any individual project to ensure the final design enhances and highlights the site’s unique history, archaeology, character and appearance.

 The six steps in the new framework are:

  • Survey: benchmark the existing lighting scheme and map key viewpoints
  • Research: establish the site’s history and produce a timeline of lighting strategy developments and luminaire modifications
  • Classification: define and classify existing luminaires
  • Luminaire restoration: create a specification for each luminaire based on its construction, material and heritage significance
  • Technical: consider lighting technology, energy use and sustainability
  • Lighting strategy: balance innovative and functional lighting design with conservation requirements

The framework was developed by Arup’s team of lighting experts while working on the restoration of Manchester Town Hall, and has since been trialled on the Royal Liver Building.

The Royal Liver Building is one of the first heritage buildings that has incorporated a bespoke, daily light show into its permanent architectural lighting scheme.

It’s new façade lighting design was recently unveiled at the city’s popular River of Lights Festival alongside a specially-commissioned sound piece synced to the lighting display.

Simon Hepple, director at CBRE, the property consultancy responsible for managing the Royal Liver Building, told Lux: ‘We were impressed with their considered approach to lighting a heritage building as well as their exciting concept.

‘Arup’s lighting scheme is one of the first of its kind in the UK, showcasing Liverpool’s spirit and hopefully helping to set a new trend in the approach to lighting heritage sites.’

The new strategy also demonstrates that innovative lighting design, sympathetic to our heritage sites, can benefit the stakeholders and wider community in four key areas: education, economic, repurpose and sustainability.

When lighting is executed using a well-designed framework, it can enhance the unique architectural features and helps to reinforce the city's identity through the rejuvenated asset.

Lauren Blow, senior lighting designer at Arup, said: ‘The purpose of producing this guide was to demonstrate that lighting can go so far beyond functional, task-based illumination.

‘It is a tool for placemaking, offering an opportunity to reinstate landmarks and provide an educational palette for observers.

‘For heritage sites, when done successfully and sympathetically, it can enliven the urban environment for tourists and local populations, rekindle the national interest in a forgotten landmark and even unlock new commercial opportunities for the site and its neighbours.’

  • For more information on the plan, click HERE.

Main photo: © Paul Carstairs/Arup Side picture: Mark Andrew 2019