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Park life

A key aim of the regeneration of the Borough of Lewisham was to improve the quality of life for the area’s inhabitants. Amanda Allen talks to Light Bureau’s Paul Traynor on how they brightened up Fordham Park

Fordham Park has just undergone a £4 million facelift. Government funded, the park is one of the few projects that narrowly escaped the public sector chopping block, benefiting not only from new lighting but new footpaths, signage, seats, bins, orchards and three new play areas.

The works form part of Route 1 of the North Lewisham Links programme, which will provide a key walking and cycling route between New Cross Gate and Deptford High Street. This requirement for the park to be inviting to both pedestrians and cyclists was a major consideration for those working on the project.

The job at hand

Landscape architects, The Landscape Partnership were quite far into their development of the park when they asked Light Bureau to submit a proposal for the lighting. Successful in their pitch, a clear brief was given, but as Light Bureau’s principal Paul Traynor explains, there was still room for creativity. “Because the concept for the park was already developed there was a lot of information for us to take on board but, at the same time, it wasn’t prescriptive at all.”

“Because of underground gas venting, there were a number of pipes coming up in the corners of the site, we felt that this was a good theme to play on,” Paul Traynor, Light Bureau

According to Paul, the concept for the lighting centred on the playful theme of the park and drew inspiration from what the landscape architects were already doing. “The landscape architects were creating a suite of play areas and these involved quite a lot of sticks and poles. Because of underground gas venting, there were a number of pipes coming up in the corners of the site – some rusty, some tall, some short – we felt that this was a good theme to play on,” says Paul.

Wanting to achieve a ‘quirky and random’ look with the lighting, the designers decided to move away from traditional path and street lighting solutions so they ruled out using standard metal halide fixtures from the outset. “We wanted the equipment we would use to be part of the park and the landscape so we ruled out standard metal halide fixtures. We thought it would be good to use solid state lighting because it would give the opportunity to use dimming if required at a point in the future,” says Paul.

Slick design

Another plus was that LEDs allowed the lantern designers to create some very slender profiles. Rather than having big, bulky lantern heads, they wanted the light source to be integrated into a pipe design. But as Paul explains, the ideas you formulate in your mind aren’t always easy to achieve. “Although we had this concept, and we had sold it to the client and the architect, we were not going to be able to get these products built and costed within the tender period. We did our design based on standard product that we weren’t really happy with.” After considering options from many different manufacturers, Light Bureau finally got the design they wanted from CU Phosco who custom designed the lanterns used in the park from pipe incorporating standard strip LED fittings from Ruud Lighting.

Playing upon the client’s desire for the park to operate as a link route for pedestrians and cyclists, Light Bureau decided to use light to emphasise the different routes through the park in a unique way. “There are three primary routes that run through the park and we decided to match these to the three primary colours. You can follow the different coloured routes depending on where you want to go,” says Paul.

This effect was achieved by integrating different coloured indicator lights – in this case red, green and blue, supplied by Mike Stoane Lighting – into the original lanterns made by CU Phosco.

In addition, on the back of some dedicated posts depending on which path you are on, a directional Iris fitting, also supplied by Mike Stoane Lighting, was used which lit back into the trees. “In lighting the trees we knew that we weren’t going to be able to use ground recessed sources because they are forbidden by the local authority. We also felt that they would be a liability from the point of view of maintenance and vandalism so we looked at doing it without ground recessed sources or surface mounted floodlights. It was also more economical to combine the posts for the pathway lighting and the general orientation lighting, which is what we did with the Iris fittings,” explains Paul.

Under darkness

Part of the brief was also to design the lighting for an underpath in the park that connects Amersham Vale and Pagnell Street. This was completed in conjunction with the artist, Heather Burrell, which really improved the dynamic, according to Paul. “We were considering designs that played upon the structural element of the equipment. Once the artist was selected, we got to design our concept with the artist’s concept and we got something that was really unique.”

While the design was important, safety was also an issue in the underpath that had to be carefully considered. “The underpath is lit using T8 fluorescents within an Osram XXT lamp. We placed fluorescent lightsources over at the edge and used diffused lighting so that we could achieve vertical lighting for people using the underpath. We also introduced very simple fluorescent fittings into a pipe work element creating the unique visual structure of the underpath.” The luminaires used were standard fittings from Norca.

Crowd control

Coupled with these safety considerations, energy efficiency was also important and while there was no budget to introduce dimming at this stage, it can be introduced in the future because solid state lighting was used.

The control system in place manages the lighting to maintain good lighting levels both by day and by night. “We were aware that during the daytime we needed to achieve good light levels within the underpath because people are coming from a very bright space into a dark space. We had to make sure that the luminance requirement of 100 lux was met. But, at the same time, we didn’t want to overlight the space.”

To control the lighting, a Dali digital control system was installed which incorporates a photocell and daylight sensor at either end. “There is a daylight sensor at one end of the underpath that dims the lighting when it’s dark outside to about 50 lux. This solved the problem of users leaving a very bright space into a dark space.”

While some would argue that projects like this are at odds with the public purse in 2011, no one can deny the positive impact the scheme has had on the Lewisham area. As one of the park’s users said, ‘The park has a new life now’.








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