The Knightsbridge Estate is one of London’s most exciting destinations, set in one of its most esteemed locations. Over 500 years of architectural heritage is clearly visible in the variety of buildings styles and periods that make up the Estate, which contains almost half a million square feet of retail, office, hotel and residential space. The challenge for lighting designers GIA Equation was to conceive of a lighting scheme that would create a sense of unity and visual continuity across the diverse buildings, whilst retaining the elegance and sophistication appropriate to this prestigious part of London.
Appointed to the project in 2011 by the owners of the Estate, Chelsfield, GIA Equation was tasked with the design of a unique façade lighting concept to create an elegant yet powerful night-time identity for the Estate. The brief required that the lighting would enhance the character of the buildings, but also bring about much needed consistency, visual continuity and refinement to the panorama. With over 500m of façade, in a variety of styles, finishes and colours, this was no easy task. Light fittings needed to be high quality, easily maintained, and compact and discreet, allowing them to blend seamlessly into the heritage facades. Simple installation was also critical for three main reasons; to create the least disruption possible to the finish of the building, to create as little disturbance for passers-by as possible, and to ensure that the project was completed within limited time-scales, minimising obstruction to the retail activity.
The design solution from GIA Equation centres on the use of tightly controlled dynamic white LED luminaires with a range from 2700K to 6500K. This solution allows the hue to be tuned to suit the building materials of each façade, and to be subtly adjusted according to season. Additional RGB functionality in the window reveals of the corner blocks allows for a single colour to signify special occasions.
acdc worked closely with GIA Equation to fully understand their requirements and to realise the most appropriate solution from their broad portfolio of LED products. To achieve all the design requirements, acdc produced a specially adapted PLAZA fitting from the Floods range, along with adapted versions of the BLADE and FINO Linear.
GIA Equation commented
“acdc’s ability to develop one of their existing products, was key to us fulfilling the design brief; as at the time of the design, we believed there wasn’t a narrow beam dynamic exterior uplight on the market that was small enough to provide the result we were looking for.”
Modifying the original two channel dynamic white PLAZA fittings, acdc created independent levels of 2700K and 6000K colour temperatures for different scene settings. Multiple optics were installed within the fittings, including 12R to punch up the height of columns and 18R to wash the base of the columns and blend the 2 different colour temperatures. For such a large-scale high profile project, colour consistency was essential. Cree XPG LEDs, which are used as standard within a number of acdc luminaires, were chosen due to Cree’s tight binning process. This, along with acdc’s secondary binning process, which ensures all LEDs are within a 2 step MacAdam ellipse, guaranteed continuity throughout.
The ability of acdc products to blend seamlessly into their surroundings addressed another crucial requirement for this project. The finish for each luminaire was carefully considered in order to compliment it’s surrounding, allowing it to effectively disappear from view. After careful consideration and mock-ups, two different finishes were selected; RAL7044 for the stone buildings and RAL802 for the red brick.
One of the key aspects of the design from GIA Equation is the ability to create a dynamic scene, so that the lit effect can be adapted. In order to achieve this, acdc installed a DMX on-board driver for individual control of the luminaires. This utilised EldoLED LEDsync programming, allowing the first fitting to be addressed, and following fittings to auto-address. The first fitting can also be set using RDM from the e:cue unit on the project.
Along with the PLAZA fittings, acdc’s FINO linear luminaire was selected to provide an even wash of light, highlighting individual architectural features whilst blending discretely into the façade thanks to its incredibly compact profile. BLADE, a powerful, wall grazing linear LED luminaire provides an even, continuous and powerful light output with excellent colour rendering was also chosen to illuminate the lower façade above the entrance to the tube station. Both BLADE and FINO also utilise the dynamic white 2700K and 6000K mix to achieve the various scheme effects.
The end result is both striking and elegant, a completely “digital” lighting scheme that offers huge flexibility to adapt the façade appearance according to preference, time and occasion. The use of LED technology has created an extremely low energy solution with the lighting using only 3.6w/m2.
Alkestie Skarlatou, Senior Designer at GIA Equation comments:
“We extensively researched the narrow-beam exterior luminaires available in the market at the time and worked with manufacturers to customise three final ones that would work both in terms of narrow beam distribution and an efficient blending of the cool white and the warm white. The acdc Plaza customised luminaire had the smoothest effect and at the same time provided a ‘clean’ uplight line to the façade. “