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The Ruby-Red regeneration of Black Prince Road

04 Feb 2019


Ahead of the Light·Space·Design 2019 summit on the 27th of March, UK lighting designer/summit presenter Michael Grubb discusses his practice's award-winning lighting regeneration of London's Black Prince Road.

Housing nearly 30,000 residents, London district Lambeth has a rich, often-shifting history. Edward of Woodstock, also known as Edward the Black Prince, lived in Lambeth in the 14th Century. As the eldest son of Edward III of England, the Black Prince's presence ensures that much of Lambeth still remains under Royal ownership today - the district's Black Prince Road is as a result named after him.

Lambeth London Borough Council decided to regenerate the road in 2018 by replacing its legacy lighting with LED luminaires. Enter Michael Grubb Studio, who were appointed to provide the creative vision and design capability for the bridge lighting overlooking Black Prince Road.

Creative Director Grubb explains that their chosen design harked back to the heritage of the road's royal namesake. The design "was a depiction of the crystallisation of ruby, in reference to the Black Prince's Ruby - one of the oldest parts of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, [which belonged] to Edward of Woodstock in the 1300s and has been worn by royalty ever since."

Grubb and his team needed to ensure their design respected and appreciated the historical significance of the structure, while also gaining approval from a host of key stakeholder groups. For engineers fitting the lights, the challenge was perhaps even more immediate - tunnel walls were old, uneven and in a state of disrepair. "The structure was very delicate, and the installation team had to be careful to ensure the fixtures were mounted using the same method as the previous luminaires."

Michael Grubb Studio took an innovative approach to the challenging installation, utilising LED handrail modules in a way that had not been done before. 27 LED handrail modules "were built into the base of the strip to provide the desired lighting levels needed on the road, chosen for their small size and photometric performance." Of the 52-metre custom red LED strip running through the bridge, Grubb says that "the lighting reflected off a hammered aluminium panel onto a polycarbonate protector with vinyl custom graphics applied."

The overall effect of Grubb's work transformed Black Prince Road in a way that was as functional as it was aesthetically pleasing. The Studio more than bypassed the challenges they faced implementing the lighting design, being shortlisted for the Surface Design Awards 2019 and winning the DARC Awards 2018.

Click here to register to catch Grubb and various other lighting design luminaries at Light·Space·Design 2019, held at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.

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