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Listed Buildings


We take a look at the importance of attention to detail and respect for the space when putting together a lighting scheme for listed buildings.


Britain’s listed buildings are a part of our heritage and something that we should be extremely proud of. The beautifully designed architecture of buildings across the country reflects our rich artistic culture, and many deserve to be illuminated of an evening for tourists and locals alike to enjoy. There are questions that need to be asked when planning to light a historic building, the first of which being the way that the building should be represented by the lighting used. The main focus should be on promoting the appreciation of the building, so lighting should enhance architectural features and create an attractive play on light and shadow. Sally Storey, Design Director at Lighting Design International, understands the benefits of investing time and energy in perfecting lighting for listed buildings; “The ‘fabric’ of the building on listed buildings is


Sally Storey, Design Director at Lighting Design International, who created the lighting for Hotel de Paris, which is pictured in the background.


what one tries to protect to minimise interference, whether inside or out. The impact though on lighting historical architecture can be wonderful, accentuating all the detail and features.” Protecting the natural beauty of a listed building requires attention to detail, ensuring that lighting does not pose as a distraction. “Cabling may need to be concealed along ledges in coves,” explains Storey. “Sometimes using a remote radio frequency control system can minimise switch wiring, perfect for old stone buildings or 17th century panelled interiors.” Lighting a listed building involves an understanding of the role that lighting will play in adding to the spectacle of impressive architecture. It is important to understand that, although a lighting scheme may have an impressive life expectancy, listed buildings will often be hundreds or even thousands of years old,


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The lighting system for the National Museum of Ireland’s Treasury Gallery was put together in a way that was entirely reversible, even down to ensuring that the mosaic floor could be replaced entirely undamaged should the lighting be altered.


so it is very important to ensure that a lighting scheme is not too intrusive. Mark Sutton Vane, Director at Sutton Vane Associates understands that lighting systems may have to bend to accommodate the existing space; “If every time a new lighting scheme is installed new holes are drilled, then the building fabric will be full of holes in what is, by the standards of the old building, a very short time. So as few changes as possible should be made.” Care should be taken to ensure that, where possible, new schemes are not intrusive. “Where it can, the new wiring should follow the old wiring routes through the walls and ceilings, or follow the gas lighting pipe routes,” explains Sutton Vane. “It is


always better to use, reuse and recycle than to replace lighting systems so we always consider carefully re-engineering and remodelling some of the existing lighting and adding new elements where it will


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