Lighting Technology projects (LTP) has completed the first UK installation of Martin Architectural's Rail Light - running along the handrails of the stunning Tradeston Bridge in Glasgow.
The new wave-like pedestrian footbridge links Tradeston on the south bank of the river Clyde with Glasgow's Financial Services District. It was devised by Glasgow-based civil engineers Halcrow in partnership with Scandinavian architects Dissing & Weitling, and reflects Glasgow City Council's objective to improve cross-river accessibility and create a landmark waterfront structure.
LTP's expertise and penchant for intricate and detailed installations (which recently includes the London Eye and Sidings Bridge, Swansea) was called into the project by Martin Architectural, who tasked them with delivering the lighting and providing their direct client BAM Nuttalls with a fully project managed scheme. This included the supply, technical fit-out and commissioning, plus 3 years of site-based warranty support.
The primary aesthetic challenge was to ensure the lightsource was invisible along the 104 metre long bridge's elegant wave like double curvature. The Rail Light was custom shaped in three dimensions to fit the contours of the structure's handrails perfectly, thereby maintaining a complete visual integrity and spatial harmony with the lateral and horizontal planes of the architecture.
LTP's project manager Jonathan Adkins worked closely with Ian Steele from BAM Nuttalls to engineer and realise the lighting installation, which involves 80 metres of Rail Light in approximately 60 bespoke curved and straight lengths. The product was specified by Dissing & Weitling who used it very successfully for Bryggebro, a 190 metre long, 7 metre wide bicycle and pedestrian swing bridge in Copenhagen.
Rail Light is a highly contemporary flat modular system based on dimmable T5 fluorescent tubes and is specially designed for the illumination of bridges and walkways. The high efficiency, long-life T5 features control and power cables wired through the luminaire via waterproof connectors, with the profiles of each fixture joined end to end.
Each section features either an internal or external lateral curve, according to its exact position along the bridge, with a bend permeating throughout the entire length of the runs to suit the topography. Fitted into extruded aluminium fixings with a waterproof polycarbonate cover, the tubes are located just below the actual safety handrails, and throw light outwards and downwards, neatly bathing the whole structure in white light.
The 840 cool white colour temperature of the T5 fixtures exudes a modern high tech ambience to match the form and function of the bridge, and the immediate street lighting around the ends of the structure has been balanced to match in white HTI.
The challenges for LTP included getting samples for both straight and curved sections, complete with all the necessary customisations for the cover sections, through the required planning and design changes and rigorous health and safety approvals prior to fitting.
Meticulous checking and counter-checking was undertaken before manufacturing to ensure that every curve for the different sections was correct and accurate. Each light fitting has its own unique location and also had to marry up to the pre-installed support posts with only millimetres of tolerance between the fixtures to maintain waterproofing and leave space for thermal expansion. "There was absolutely no room for errors at this stage - either by us or the designers!" states Adkins.
The LTP team was on site for 4 weeks completing the work which also included fitting the mains feeds, circuit protection and control system.
The lights are running off a manual preset controller triggered by a time clock, switching on at dusk and off at dawn. This has been specially tweaked to produce the exact lux required for official legal pedestrian bridge illuminations.
This sculptural like work can be enjoyed by all day and night. Tradeston bridge is intended to act as a catalyst for investment, to promote confidence in the city and to play a proactive role in the river's regeneration in addition to providing a way cool focus for activities and events, promoting Tradeston as a new urban quarter.
Jonathan Adkins concludes, "It was a real pleasure to work on something as high profile, beautiful looking yet functional and accessible as this and to collaborate with BAM Nuttalls and Martin Architectural. Intense planning and thorough calculations certainly paid off as we delivered on time and in budget".