BESPOKE CHANDELIERS SHINE AT HIGHGATE SCHOOL

Precision Lighting as Manufacturers

Refurbished Highgate School Library Lit by Oculus 16 LEDs


London, United Kingdom, 8th May, 2014 — The new library and learning resources centre at Highgate School in London features four bespoke chandeliers created with Precision Lighting’s Oculus spotlights and Basis Track. The chandeliers can be raised and lowered to accommodate different uses of the space. Their design ‘followed complex parameters,’ says Precision Lighting’s design manager, Peter McClelland. ‘Each chandelier is suspended from just two points so that it can be moved up or down using synchronised winches. We ensured that the track was rigid and would not flex; stabilised with a custom-built, seamlessly welded brushed aluminium ring that is located above the matching, circular Basis Track’. There are ten Oculus 16 LED spotlights on each chandelier.


Luminaires complement architectural vision


London architect Clague created the new Sir Martin Gilbert Library at Highgate, retaining the Victorian shell of the Grade II-listed Big School built in 1866 by Fredrick Pepys Cockerell. It was originally one large schoolroom on the upper ground level, four classrooms on the lower ground and an undercroft that was the original library. However, the architecturally sympathetic conversion includes a new mezzanine floor for a perimeter gallery and adapts the space for a library and learning resources centre, while retaining the building’s function as a meeting hall and performance area. The project team led by the school included M&E consultant Peter Deer and Associates. Luke Hughes and Company designed and supplied all the furniture.


Oculus blurs the line between form and function


The Oculus LED luminaire, machined from aerospace-grade aluminium for its thermal and aesthetic qualities, embodies the Victorian ideal of high quality engineering but has a contemporary look that suits it perfectly to Clague’s design. Its design includes movement aided with a low-friction bearing rotation and constant torque tilt mechanism and the ability to lock it in pan and tilt. Precision Lighting’s low profile Basis Track system has proved popular with architects and designers alike. Its ability to form complex shapes using a comprehensive range of standard components offers a creative lighting solution, whilst keeping costs to a minimum. The energy-efficient design of the library includes a new HVAC system that also influenced the design of the chandeliers. ‘The other reason that we could only use two cables was to avoid disrupting the airflow from the library’s new ventilation system,’ McClelland adds. ‘It is all very well thought out and required engineering to a very high specification. Precision Lighting has research and development facilities in London where we are able to test out custom solutions as well as working on new or improved designs.’


Highgate School

Clague Architects as Architects

Clague won this contract having made a presentation for a scheme to convert the original listed school hall (The Big School) into a new library and flexible study space. The scheme involved inserting a steel mezzanine floor around the perimeter of the hall on which library stacks would stand. The ground floor consisted of perimeter work stations with the remaining area used as a study space. The stage was left as a flexible area upon which the librarians’ workstation is also located. The conservation work commenced with the preparation of a Heritage Statement and later a detailed building survey of the entire fabric, both prepared by Clague. These were discussed with the school and the local authority conservation officers, and the team developed a repair strategy. The Big School dates from 1865 includes many significance features which had to be retained including the leadwork panels and roundels on the façade dating from the 16th century. The detailing and materials are of particular importance, including the intricate details of the gables, chimney stacks, stone windows, glazing and the decorative brickwork, with some excellent carvings. Internally, the linen-fold panelling and the open trussed roof contributed to the High Gothic of the ‘Big School’. The intention was to insert contemporary structures that would update the purpose of the space to offer modern day amenities, whilst retaining and enhancing the character of the historic fabric. The local authority conservation officer was fully involved at the earliest stage of the design process. A mezzanine level was inserted inside Big School, constructed of steel, cantilevered off slender steel columns supported on the structural cross walls to the classrooms below on the ground floor. Restraining members were carefully fixed to the existing structure to avoid disturbance to the original exhibition boards. The aim of the scheme was to provide a new floor which would be as light and reversible and require the only minimal alteration to the historic fabric. In addition to the internal alterations, the external fabric underwent a full conservation repair to achieve the school’s briefing to achieve a 40 year life to the building fabric. A thorough pre-qualification procedure and interview process took place to select the contractor, with the key component being the technical skill to carry out the repairs to a high standard.


The work was carried out by Cuffe, the main contractor to the very highest standard, achieving the school’s ambitions in full. The library was opened by Gordon Brown MP on 6th May 2014 and named the Sir Martin Gilbert Library.

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