“We want to light up a 500 metre long block of Knightsbridge, to emphasize all the different architectural elements of the historic buildings, and we want the installation to be so discreet the public don’t notice it till it lights up.”
That was the request put to BAM FM by lighting designers Gia Equation. Obviously we delivered, as the lighting design recently won a prestigious International Association of Lighting Designers Award of Merit 2015. But it wasn’t a stroll in Hyde Park.
Technology behind the vision
The client’s vision was to light up the different buildings that are part of the Knightsbridge Estate, including three listed Grade II heritage buildings and several early 19th century buildings, in a way that would enhance and unify the different architectural elements, including a variety of stone sizes and shapes.
The challenge was to discreetly install Gia Equation’s design, which used dynamic-white LED luminaires to create a different hue of white light to suit each building material. As no standard luminaires were discreet enough, we adapted standard products to achieve maximum lit impact with minimum spill light. The 1,500 luminaires across the entire block’s façade are controlled from a single location via DMX protocol, using over 3,000 control channels. We designed the DMX protocol, including calculating the number of units capable of operating from the splitters and power packs, and ensured the installation was invisible to the public except when on. This completely “digital” lighting solution offers a subtly different façade appearance in summer and winter months.
Working around luxury flagships stores
Knightsbridge is best known for luxury shopping. And the Knightsbridge Estate sits between probably the most famous shopping destinations of the area, Harrods, which attracts 15 million visitors a year, and the Harvey Nichols flagship store. So to put up the 1,500 luminaires, we had to break the installation up into phases, and carry them out between 8pm and 6.30am when the site was at its quietest.
The installation took 300 days, for six operatives to install the 1,500 luminaires and to discreetly hide 4800 metres of cables. When finished and lit up for the first time, it was all light on the night!
“Invisibly integrated light sources and a refreshing sensitivity to varying architectural materials makes this one of the most successful executions of the illumination of historical facades.” IALD Judge
Instead of just flooding the facades with generic illumination, the designers carefully highlighted specific architectural details, creating depth and definition. THIS is how it is done!” IALD Judge