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Spectral Lighting at university of arts

In partnership with McCarthy Bainbridge design consultancy, Spectral Lighting has designed, supplied and commissioned bespoke LED ceiling coffer luminaires and a supporting controls package to transform a corridor-cum-gallery space at The University of Creative Arts (UCA) Farnham. The corridor, which plays host to a steady rotation of students’ work, previously had a dark wood ceiling and just a handful of spotlights. It was dingy, drab and did little to positively showcase the artworks that were on display.

The UCA Farnham has a long and rich history as a hub of creativity and to reflect the considerable output of its alumni, the site has begun a refurbishment programme to provide a suitable backdrop for their art. The corridors that required a new lighting scheme have been remodelled with clean, white-plastered walls and a new coffer ceiling which creates a continuous, flowing perspective and gallery feel.

“The original corridor was a poorly lit and gloomy space which displayed some art work but was primarily used as a transit route to teaching spaces. The floor to ceiling height was very limited - resulting in a void of less than 110mm being available – meaning we had to choose our lighting solution carefully,” says Tony Bainbridge, Director at McCarthy Bainbridge Ltd.

It was decided that a drop ceiling construction would be offered with additional fully directional recessed spotlights mounted into the drop side sections, allowing maximum flexibility to illuminate art work and allow simplified wiring routes for new and existing services.

With the new ceiling in place, Spectral was tasked with fitting recessed coffer luminaires to the area. This required a solution that could be installed custom sized for easy on-site assembly and discretely embedded into the visible vertical facia.

Spectral was founded on the principal of tailor-made specials and immediately turned to its U-PROFIL aluminium extrusion. This offers the continuous light channels required for the coffer ceiling and can be made-to-measure. The irregular coffers and shapes would have been a challenge if standard lengths were to be used. However, exact lengths were manufactured and delivered to site, fully assembled and ready to install.

The U-shaped channels are supplied in one-piece sections up to lengths of 5000mm. The housing itself is the carrier for the control gear and light output can be obtained using a flexible LED linear line system. At the Farnham installation, a simple opal diffuser has been used to provide the desired continuous light-effect, complementing the perspective of the space and providing a soft diffused light.

Creative Control

In addition to its bespoke luminaires, UCA Farnham also has its own control system which Spectral supplied to add an extra element of design to the new wing. With a large section of the corridor facing floor-to-ceiling windows, the lumen levels needed to be controlled to reduce artificial light when required. In addition, a series of spots are aligned along the corridor to light the art that is on display.

“Flexibility was paramount in allowing the space to be used as a corridor or an art gallery,” adds Tony. “There were a number of considerations to assess on the controls side of this project – it needed to function for use as a corridor, be customisable and design-led for use as a gallery and we had to address the huge variations in natural light along the area.”

Dependant on the size, format and colour of these works, the required light level projecting on to them varies according to time of day and ambience required. Spectral designed a control platform to increase the flexibility at the college when deciding on exhibition placements by allowing staff to dim and brighten the spots in individual zones as required.

The setup is linked to a DALI network and connects to a processor that integrates with the colleges pre-existing IP network. This removed any disruptive hardware-installation, additional wiring and switches from this phase of the project as with the software having been designed, the platform is accessible on any of the college’s computers via a standard web browser.

Although accessible across the campus, the system is protected to ensure that the right people have access to the right information. The brief from the college also included the requirement for mobile control of the system to recall scenes locally to ensure that levels were optimised for exhibits on an individual basis. To meet this requirement, Spectral has created an iPad app interface for ease of use. This level of control allows each section of the corridor to be adjusted locally, with each section getting the optimum light levels for each piece of work.

Commenting on the end result, Bainbridge adds:

“The installation has led to a largely improved environment meeting the university’s needs. The use of LED technology throughout ensures that the desired effect can be retained at all times. The previous space had no dimming controls, and now the staff at UCA can set scenes to cater for specific events or displays. The prolific use of R60 reflector lamps previously has ensured that despite the increased lighting levels, energy consumption within the space has actually been reduced.”

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