Transformation Through Light; Hosted by BDP and Canal & River Trust

Last week, Studiotech was proud to support BDP and Canal & River Trust during the three day event ‘Transformation Through Light’. 

Lighting, especially dynamic and architectural, can often be considered an aesthetic luxury but here, BDP has shown how it can be used as a functional way to provide a safer and more inviting environment.

Walking through the underpass, it’s hard to imagine how it looks on a normal evening, the dark, unwelcoming space is a problem area for anti-social behaviour and difficult to maintain for the trust.  The Canal & River Trust has been looking at ways to reimagine the undercroft, and how to reconnect this area with the rest of the city.

In a bid to get the conversation started, BDP devised a concept to bring the underpass alive through the medium of light.

Studiotech supported the event by reusing surplus luminaires and equipment from previous projects and providing the installation and programming free of charge.  Studiotech was keen to help raise awareness for the importance of making our city a safer place.

We took the opportunity to learn a little more about the inspiration behind the event, here our marketing manager, Nat, catches up with Chris Lowe, Lighting Design Associate at BDP.

Starting with a bit about your background in lighting, why did you choose Lighting Design as a career?

Light always intrigued me. Lighting design as a profession wasn’t something I discovered until after graduation. When I realised that it was a unique discipline of its own, I started to research more on the topic and found it perfectly combined my interest in design, art, architecture, physics and aesthetics. Light is fundamental to visual perception and is an incredibly rich topic – it’s not something I could ever tire of.

What was the purpose of the Transformation Through Light event?

The Canal and River Trust approached us with the challenge of reimagining the Undercroft and creating a design which would transform people’s perceptions of the space. Ultimately with the aim of initiating a conversation about permanent future improvements to the area through a range of interventions. This event marks the start of that journey.

What was your inspiration behind the concept?

Water was a key conceptual inspiration. The interplay of light, water and reflection has the capacity to be magical, when combined in the right way. The undercroft area is around 130m long and has four distinct areas which feature different architectural forms and structures and give each segment a unique character. The design responds to these characteristics in terms of the lighting approach which is bespoke to the four spaces, some focusing on enclosure and suspense, whilst others open up to be expansive and ephemeral. Practically, there were limitations on what we do given the temporary nature of the event and the equipment whilst minimising interruption to a live site.

You managed to transform the space using light alone, as a medium, how complex is it designing with light?

At its essence it can be incredibly simple. To a skilled designer it can become largely intuitive working with and accentuating the ‘feel’ of a space. The complexity often comes in the detailing and final implementation such as the programming and commissioning – this is a the most fragile point in the design process and is often overlooked.

Did you come across any challenges throughout the event?

There were many challenges! The lighting equipment was all generously lent by Studiotech, not purchased, so we had to work within the constraints of what was available at the time and the design was partially a product of this. The other major challenge was the safe location of equipment. As the site was live and the installation was adjacent to the water, we had to be mindful of what could be safely located and temporarily fixed so that we weren’t hindering site works and putting the installers at risk.

How do you think light can impact the disused and uninviting areas of our cities?

Light is all you see, you don’t ‘see’ objects, just light reflected into the eye from a surface or directly from a light source. As humans are primarily visual creatures light is a powerful modifier of perception. How a space looks, the aesthetics, directly impacts how you feel about it – so when light is applied judiciously and carefully it can fundamentally transform how spaces are perceived and used. Over time this impacts the area. That’s not to say that physical interventions aren’t also required, more a recognition that light has an energy and transformational power in its own capacity. The awareness of light’s value is growing, and I see that as incredibly positive.

For further information regarding Canal & River Trust plans for ‘Reimagining the Undercroft’ visit – Undercroft Consultation Website