Relighting the interior of St Paul’s is one of the greatest challenges we have ever undertaken. The architectural and iconic value of the building, its long and remarkable history and the complex mix of worship, tourism and spectacle combined to make it a monumental task.
Our multi-award-winning lighting solution lay in seeing the scheme as a series of layers that fell into distinct categories: general, architectural, liturgical and theatrical lighting. Each layer can either stand independently or be combined to provide variety and flexibility.
The success of our design approach has led to its description within the conservation and heritage world as a benchmark project.
We provided the general lighting by a series of new and refurbished chandeliers, converted gasoliers and stall lights, together with specially designed lighting bars that can be folded away to restore the look of the space. The architectural lighting comes from a mixture of concealed light sources, including the uplighting of the main vaults, the dome, transept windows, organ and other major features. For the liturgical scenes, we added localised lighting to the various altar positions. Supplementary theatre lighting serves the crossing.
In addition to these main layers, we improved the lighting to the entrances and upgraded the theatrical lighting systems used for events.
There were numerous constraints to be worked through to achieve the optimum balance between operational and aesthetic requirements. The planning and permissions process involved extensive research into minimising damage to the fabric, as well as mock-ups and tests. Other issues included disabled access, the illumination of artworks, limited availability of power and the need to develop a sustainable solution.
Work was only permitted at night, and the project took a full four years to complete.