Lighting Design

Case Studies

Musée d'Art de Nantes

Nantes, the sixth largest city in France, is home to the Musée d’Art recently refurbished and extended by Stanton Williams Architects. Max Fordham designed both exhibition and architectural lighting.

The different lit character of the spaces helps define the journey through the museum. Spaces displaying older parts of the collection, for example oil paintings, are treated with warm light focused onto the canvases to help lift the colours, whereas contemporary works are positioned in bright ambient spaces which have a more subtle style of emphasis.

The old lighting used in the Palais galleries has been replaced with complex layers of superimposed glass, stretched fabric and controllable blinds, resulting in a ‘passing cloud’ effect. The quantity of natural light is controlled but with a soft touch: on especially bright days, blinds start to close to preserve the artworks, but levels are usually allowed to vary in order to embrace the changeability of sun and skylight both in tone and intensity. Glass of varying transmission is used above the galleries and for different orientations, to make the light more consistent and avoid overheating. Between galleries and external glazing, perforate blinds and diffusing membranes help manage brightness and even-out the light.

The new extension is glazed with translucent, laminated marble that draws natural light into the building, helping to achieve an enjoyable internal environment for visitors and art conservation, with minimal energy use.

Most of the main lighting pieces were bespoke designed for Nantes. These included light boxes in contemporary galleries and a more subtle profile cut through the ceilings of the palais ground floor spaces. In public areas like the restaurant, library and book store we hung light structures that discreetly emphasise the features of the existing Palais as well as adding a new layer of character.

Image Cecile Clos Info
Dramatic lighting uses backlighting with focused lights on the features and statues of the facade.
Image Hufton + Crow Info
Controlled natural lighting to the existing galleries is provided through rooflights, reducing electric lighting energy consumption. On especially bright days, blinds close to preserve the artworks, but levels are allowed to vary in order to embrace the changeability of sun and skylight both in tone and intensity.
Image Hufton + Crow Info
Daylight is filtered down into the gallery spaces and subtly links with the supporting electric lights. This innovative approach reduces electrical energy demand and helps make the the building feel connected to the outside.
Image Hufton + Crow Info
The character of the spaces helps define the journey through the museum. The basement spaces under the Palais are warm, bright and well conditioned, making use of the old stone retaining walls for thermal mass and lighting.

Theatre Royal Glasgow

The Theatre Royal Glasgow project included the redesign and refurbishment of the historic Category A theatre, and construction of a new foyer.

The lighting design provides an interesting, inviting and intimate set of landscapes within the new foyer space, where the colours and finishes relate to the historic fabric of the listed auditorium. Dramatic daylighting throughout the foyer reduces the need for artificial lighting.

Our work involved testing reflectivity and finishes with computer analysis, and 1:1 scale mock-ups to understand how the lighting would perform under a range of conditions and at different times of day and night.

The high level lantern and perimeter glazing provide dramatic daylighting throughout the foyer, while reducing the energy required for artificial lighting.

The lighting and new energy-efficient systems provide healthy, comfortable and vibrant environments for audiences and performers alike.

Image Andrew Lee Info
Dramatic daylighting throughout the foyer reduces the need for artificial lighting.
Image Andrew Lee Info
The high-level lantern and glazing lends a natural, bright, calm quality and reduces the energy required for artificial lighting.
Image Andrew Lee Info

Wellcome Collection

In response to its increasing popularity, we worked on a significant project of opening up and re-modelling of the Wellcome Collection building.

The existing entrance-space has been expanded to make the full extent of the collection more apparent, adding new gallery spaces, youth events space, a kitchen and restaurant. The existing library was reorganised and re-opened.

The project was undertaken in various, unconnected parts of the building with work being phased to maximise the area of the building which could remain open. Working in and around the existing building with minimal disruption to the archival material and conservation spaces was a particular challenge.

Image Ben Gilbert/Wellcome Images Info
The lighting scheme within the new restaurant area of the Wellcome Collection
Image Ben Gilbert/Wellcome Images Info
The lighting illuminates the staircase of the Wellcome Trust.
Image Ben Gilbert/Wellcome Images Info
The library lighting at the Wellcome Trust.

Tate Britain

This major project has improved gallery conditions and the visitor experience at the Grade II* listed Tate Britain in Millbank, London. 

The galleries have been designed to maximise controlled daylight and reduce energy demand. An innovative shading system developed by us ensures artworks are lit to relevant conservation standards, avoiding direct sunlight and reducing the need for artificial lighting.

The new and refurbished spaces all have bespoke glass light fittings designed especially for the project.

Image Info
Our award winning innovative shading system ensures artworks are lit to relevant conservation standards, avoiding direct sunlight and reducing the demand for artificial lighting.
Image Hélène Binet Info
Bespoke light fittings for the extension were designed for Tate Britain.

Friends House

We were part of the design team with John McAslan + Partners, on the transformation of the Large Meeting House at Friends House, the home of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain.

The room features a rooflight inspired by the artist James Turrell. Seating over 1,000 people, it is a versatile, accessible and sustainable space which responds to the growing needs of the outreach and social programmes at Friends House.

Image Hufton + Crow Info
Flexible controls allow for a variety of auditorium configurations.
Image Hufton + Crow Info
The Skylight is boosted by subtle uplighting.

Olympic Water-Polo Venue 2012

Our approach for external lighting was to avoid bright and polluting lighting installations commonly associated with large events. Instead we created a scheme based on colour and movement, gaining the same focus and attention but with much less energy use.

The roof and sides of the Venue with a grid of 120 RGB light fittings which produce animations inspired by what is happening in the Park and inside the Venue. For example, a race in the adjacent Aquatics Venue creating a wave which runs up the Water Polo roof.

The scheme required detailed modelling and full scale mock ups to deal with the tricky reflective material and tight angles, ensuring that it worked perfectly on completing. Internal lighting in the venue was driven by the need of competitions and HDTV. Careful analysis was needed to make sure lighting worked from all angles and that no distracting glare was created when the water was disturbed during play. 

Image Max Fordham Info
Extensive computational analysis and physical modelling was undertaken to ensure that the rigorous Olympic standards were met
Image David Morley Architects Info
Precise light levels were needed for the Olympic competition and broadcast

Lighting Design