Tuesday 31 May 2011


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Illuminating the New Pedestrian Arcade of the Great Northern Hotel

The development of the Great Northern Hotel is part of the first phase of King’s Cross Central, currently the most significant development and regeneration opportunity being carried out in central London.

The Great Northern Hotel was designed as a railway terminus hotel by Lewis Cubitt, it was the largest purpose-built hotel in London when completed in 1855. It is now Grade II listed. The strategy is to return the hotel to its former glory, retaining original details while incorporating new modern features.

An initial phase of work to the hotel, completed in November 2009, included the incorporation of a new pedestrian arcade into the lower floors of the building. This is required to be linked into the new western ticket hall of King’s Cross Station which will be completed in the spring of 2012.

It was recognised that the lighting scheme for the Great Northern Hotel Arcade would have a significant influence on the public’s experience of the space, thereby contributing to its perceived ambience and the safety and security of its users, both during daylight hours as well as after dark. The approach adopted has been to minimise the visual impact of any lighting fittings within the arcade, whilst delivering a scheme of lighting which would create an appropriate lighting character, the correct quantity of light and a safe environment, whilst reducing energy consumption wherever possible.

In order to mitigate the impact of the luminaires on the architectural space, the design solutions have sought, from an early stage, to integrate any luminaires into the architectural elements of the arcade.

The success of the proposed scheme of artificial lighting will depend upon achieving an appropriate balance between a number of lighting design criteria, namely:• Ambience – to create an appropriate character at various times.

Amenity – to provide the correct quantity and quality of light to see by.

Heritage impact – to produce a scheme that is sensitive to the original fabric of the building.

Legibility – to reveal the overall form of the arcade and public space in an intelligible manner.

Image – to provide an appropriate and memorable experience.

Accessibility – to consider users with special needs.

Safety – to assist with maintaining a safe environment.

Security – to assist with maintaining a secure environment.

Cost – to ensure that targets for capital and running costs are met.

Buildability – to ensure that the lighting can be successfully installed.

Maintenance – to ensure that the lighting is cost effective and easy to run.

Sustainability – to minimizie environmental impact.

Environmental Impact – to minimizie energy consumption.

The points set out below list the specific design concepts which were considered and developed by the designers and from which, the lighting scheme for the Arcade advanced:

1. Providing definition to the architectural form of the arcade: Uplight the vaulted ceiling bays uniformly; accentuate the rhythm of the curved wall bays; uplight the colonnade wall columns.

2. Complimenting the architectural form through the physical appearance of the luminaires: Integrate the luminaires into the architectural design; avoid mounting luminaries indiscretely onto the curved wall and vaulted ceiling surfaces to keep their distinctive architectural forms ‘clean’; avoid mounting luminaires such that they block the view along the rhythm of arches along the arcade; mount glowing decorative luminaires at the flat junctions between the curved wall bays to accentuate the rhythm of the arcade and help provide an attractive, warm glowing element at human scale.

3. Highlighting thresholds to improve legibility and safety and define architectural openings; Provide direct downlighting to entrances / exits

4. Alleviating of the potential for the arcade to be dark or gloomy: Uplight the soffit to accentuate its height and scale; provide sufficient horizontal illumination through direct and indirect downlighting; provide vertical illumination through indirect lighting, column uplighting, wash-lighting to the shutters and decorative glowing wall-lights

5. Providing the ability to switch or dim luminaires to create various lighting moods: Enable each lighting element to be individually controlled; pre-set a series of lighting scenes that can be deployed at different times.


Design Team Client / Developer – King’s Cross Central Partnership Ltd Architects - Allies & Morrison (Initial design to RIBA stage E), Lawray Architects (Delivery phase of D&B Contract, RIBA stages F - onwards) Lighting Design Consultant – Speirs & Major Associates D&B Contractor – Kier Wallis Lighting Supplier and Product Development – Compact Lighting Ltd Photography copyright: John Sturrock


Lawray architects