Lighting Technology Projects (LTP) has completed the specification, supply, and installation of an elegant white lighting scheme for the All Soul’s Church on Regent Street, in central London’s famous Marylebone district.
Designed by King George IV’s favourite architect John Nash, All Souls is a ‘Waterloo’ church, built in 1823 as part of the nation’s thanksgiving for the victory of Wellington over Napoleon. Constructed from Bath stone, the design combines a graceful 160 ft Gothic style spire and a classical rotunda ‘body.’ It is the last surviving John Nash church.
LTP was contacted by designers LUXX, who’s Martin Richman and Dominic Berning have worked with them on numerous other interesting, idiosyncratic and innovative architectural lighting projects. LTP’s Terry reeves comments, “It’s always a challenge working on Martin’s projects—they push the aesthetic envelope and are exciting and edgy. All Souls definitely has a life of its own—something we needed to reflect in the specification of equipment—and the results are hugely rewarding.” LTP also project managed, coordinated, and commissioned the lighting once the installation was complete.
The whole frontage of the building has been lit in three sections—the lower rotunda (including the entrance), the upper rotunda, and the spire. Creatively underpinning the whole lighting scheme was the imperative to be subtle and understated. The aim was to ensure the church’s own identity and natural beauty shone through in a seamless amalgamation of well-applied effects utilising both direct and indirect light sources.
The principal spire lighting scheme consists of 14 Astralux ARC 6 150W searchlights, each located at the base of and up-lighting the 14 individual spire flutes. These were chosen by LTP for their marine-grade durability, and because they light each 20 metre spire facet with no discernable hot spots or tail off of light output.
At the base of the top element of the spire is a small surrounding balcony, complete with balustrade, which us illuminated by the reflected light from the spire, giving a softer and contrasting glow to the sharp white shaft of the spire. Below this starts the ‘upper rotunda’ section of the spire, consisting of 17 facets encircled by Corinthian columns, emphasising the spire’s two distinct and separate sections.
It was also important that the lighting scheme linked the spire and the upper rotunda, the later of which is again circled by a balustrade collar at the bottom. The key fixtures used on the upper rotunda are Meyer Superlight 35 Watt CDM-T narrow beam angled floodlights, picked for durability, the choice of beam angle and wattage output, which is a close match to the look of the spire above, but a much shorter throw. There is a series of three metre high louvers ensconced between each facet, which are internally lit by EncapSulite MT50 IP67 rated fluorescents, giving a broad flat light output through the louvers.
The balustrade at this level is also back lit with a further 28 EncapSulite MT50, simultaneously providing the sole source of indirect lighting for the main upper rotunda façade. There’s three additional lights placed at this level, highlighting the refurbished clocks—Meyer Superlight medium beam angled 70 Watt discharge sources, with barn doors.
The lower rotunda (ground floor) is primarily lit from behind each of its 10 columns with more Meyer Superlight 70 Watt CDM-T fixtures—this time with narrow beam, positioned for direct down-lighting the rear of the pillar. The resulting reflected light also lifts the remaining inner wall of the rotunda, and the downcasts of light bouncing off the pillars bathe the steps in light.
The other element of ground floor lighting is the illumination of the stone sculpture capitals (each including three gargoyles) at the top of each pillar. The capitals are Ionic in design and made from Coade stone, complete with unusual winged headed cherubs, based on a design by Michelangelo.
This was a tricky task. The brief was to do this with absolute minimum impact on the building aesthetics, leaving the light-sources virtually invisible, so LTP specified thee points of fibre optic per capital as the lightsource. Two 150 Watt discharge fibre optic sources each feed fifteen 6.5 mm fibre optic Light Guides across the 10 pillars.
The project has taken about four years from conceptualization to realization. “I’m really proud of what we managed to achieve,” says Terry Reeves. “In terms of realizing Martin Richman’s creative vision, ensuring minimum architectural impact, and producing a practical and maintainable scheme that looks amazing.”