AN INNOVATIVE approach to lighting an underpass has been taken in Luton.
The Wellington Street pedestrian tunnel – designed by artist Jack Wates – features a combination of Reggiani’s award-winning Light Cells luminaires and colourful conduit.
The project was developed through a series of workshops with local young people. The design takes the form of a weave of colourful conduit that wraps the tunnel to support an array of bespoke luminaires.
Gentle animation across the lights produces colourful shadows that shift from wall to wall while minimising fluctuation in the overall light intensity of the tunnel.
The workshops were programmed to allow participants to engage with a range of design methods throughout various stages of the project.
They began with a session on site surveying the tunnel and developed into a series of drawing exercises that explored potential conduit patterns and lighting configurations.
This then fed into the creation of a large, scaled model, which was devised to be magnetic to allow different schemes to be discussed and tested quickly as a group.
The resulting design materialised as a sculptural weave of conduit, expressed as interlocking diagonals on the ceiling plane that become parallel vertical drops on the sidewalls.
The second set of workshops was about engaging participants with the practice of lighting design.
By working with the modular, versatile Cells luminaires, different configurations of colours, optics and diffusers could be explored.
Cells guarantees an IP66 rating thanks to the hard robust die-cast aluminium body for electronic components while the diffuser are IK10 shock resistant.
Through the testing of all the different optics – narrow, medium, large, rectangular, asymmetric or double asymmetric – comparisons could be made between the lit effect that each would produce, as well as the issue of glare when mounted at different positions on the wall.
This led to a final configuration in which fittings with asymmetric-beam distribution were used high up on the wall to light the soffit while fittings with a rectangular-beam distribution were placed low down, to light the opposite wall while minimising glare.
The participatory workshops were also about exploring light and colour.
By affixing custom made coloured gels to the front of each of the 16 individual reflectors the concept of colour mixing was explored.
The aim was to produce white light in the space while producing coloured shadows on the walls and ceiling.
This was ultimately achieved using balanced combinations of blue and amber in some fittings and red, green and blue in others.
As the tunnel fills up with people the strength and saturation of the coloured shadows increases naturally due to more of the fixtures, which wash out the shadows, being blocked by people’s presence.
One element of the original brief questioned whether the underpass could be used to house events while maintaining access through it or whether it could become a backdrop to support other local creative projects.
Since opening in September, the underpass has featured in a music video by local artist Sadface Poet and Lavz.
The project was commissioned by Revoluton Arts and supported by Luton Council and Volker Highways.