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Photography: James Newton


‘There are always cost, maintenance and energy issues but, in the end, however grand or plain the architecture, the same principles of good lighting design apply: Technique is more


important than technology.’ Mark Sutton Vane, principal, Sutton Vane Associates


Above: Sutton Vane Associates recently completed the second phase of the lighting at the chapel at Mercers’ Hall in London. Top left & below: BDP Lighting is currently designing the refurbishment for Blackburn Cathedral, including a new interior and façade lighting scheme with a bespoke pendant. Bottom left: BDP’s vision for Chester Cathedral, which is currently being implemented.


without detracting from visual attractiveness. ‘Whilst our work with architects helps them turn their designs from creative aspirations into reality, that gives due consideration to a range of factors from the importance of ease of maintenance, such as cleaning and lamp changing, to the types of materials used to ensure they both enhance the building and provide the amount and type of lighting required,’ he continues. Over the years Sutton Vane Associates has lit all manner of places of worship including churches. These projects have ranged in scale from individual chapels through to relighting Newcastle, Llandaff and other cathedrals. ‘People still remember us lighting the exterior of London’s St Paul’s Cathedral in red light for one night as part of the international Aids Awareness campaign,’ says Mark Sutton Vane, principal of Sutton Vane Associates. He highlights the growing role of lighting controls within this type of environment: ‘Lighting controls have a growing role to play because the buildings are being used for a wider range of events than they were historically and, as with many heritage projects, conserving the fabric of the building is very important. There are always cost, maintenance and energy issues but, in the end, however grand or plain the architecture, the same principles of good lighting design apply: Technique is more important than technology.’ SVA recently completed the second phase of the lighting at the chapel at Mercers’ Hall in London. The 1950s cold cathode lighting made its interior look flat and gloomy. The old cold cathode was replaced with a modern, fully dimmable and more efficient cold cathode system from the same supplier, Oldham.


Scene setting is carried out via a set of controls secreted behind a wood panel. An unused balcony provides the location for low voltage IRC tungsten halogen spotlights trained on features such as crests and the altar, which has returned depth and texture to the interior.


In the second phase of the project, dimmable spotlights were installed to light statues which had been added into the chapel, and the overall lighting was reprogrammed to take this into account. Jonathan Rush, executive lighting designer at Hoare Lea Lighting, says one of the first things to consider when illuminating churches is what you want to be the primary focus of peoples’ attention. ‘Candlelight was really the first artificial lighting impression and normally situated around key visual focal points – for example the font, apse and shrines. The architect


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