From concept to completion: bringing bespoke lighting solutions to life
February 2022, by Guy Bolton
February 2022, by Guy Bolton
DW Windsor has a long history of delivering bespoke lighting solutions and unique structures. As a specification-led organisation, we understand the importance of flexibility and the need to meet specific customer requirements. But what does it take to transform a concept into a reality?
In this article, which first appeared in the ILP's Lighting Journal (vol. 87, issue 1), our Special Projects Co-ordinator, Guy Bolton, provides a detailed account of how we help bring designers' visions to life.
Colour-changing LED totems are at the heart of a much-needed £4m regeneration of Bridlington’s seafront on the east coast of Yorkshire. But ensuring the new lighting was up to withstanding the winds, cold and heat, seawater and sand and, sadly, the threat of vandalism all proved challenging.
The lighting of seaside locations in the UK is always a challenge. A profusion of signposts, adverts and flashing lights will be striving to attract the passing tourist. Therefore, to make a statement in such an environment is no mean task.
Furthermore, the seafront is a harsh first line of defence against the might of the ocean. Anything less than flawless products will quickly have their weaknesses exposed and ripped bare by the relentless climate.
When renowned lighting designers Sutton Vane Associates (SVA) approached us at DW Windsor in the autumn of 2018 to help rejuvenate the seafront at Bridlington, we were therefore delighted to get involved.
Bridlington on the east coast of Yorkshire has been a popular destination for over 200 years and is a thriving seaside resort.
A family favourite holiday destination, Bridlington boasts two award-winning beaches and a seafront, offering panoramic views of Bridlington Bay edged by the cliffs sweeping round to Flamborough Head.
Guy Bolton, Special Projects Co-Ordinator
As Special Projects Co-ordinator, Guy has helped support some of DW Windsor's most creative and bespoke lighting solutions for the past 20 years. His experience and knowledge ensure customer satisfaction while remaining committed to the designer's vision.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council expressed a desire to overhaul the tired promenade between Regent Gardens and Garrison Square in a £4m regeneration project. Lacking major upgrade for almost 30 years, a team was established to focus on how best to refresh and modernise the area. Working with engineering and architectural consultants Sweco, with SVA as lighting consultants, an open meeting was held in April 2018 to suggest proposals and listen to local businesses and residents.
Schemes were created and plans were then drawn up before SVA contacted us at DW Windsor with some outline sketches and requirements for the feature lighting. This included the installation of totem columns and linear in-ground LED strips.
Bridlington has long attracted visitors with various motives and desires. A fire-beacon once stood along the cliffs at Flamborough Head to warn of approaching Vikings. It may be the comfort and security of this flickering column of light that inspired the unique colour-changing totems we were asked to create.
Many discussions and meetings later, SVA issued a thoughtful and comprehensive specification in November 2018 and our design team set their minds to the task of finding the best possible solution.
Seasides in the UK are harsh. A vast scope of damaging conditions need to be endured. Feature lighting along a British promenade doesn’t just have to work in the summer season, coping with the hot midday sun and assorted spillages of soda, ice-cream and alcohol after a wild night out.
These items must fulfil their purpose all year round; when the winter storms hurl corrosive seawater across Garrison Square; when North Sea winds whip layers off Bridlington’s beaches and sandblast the paint from buildings. The promenade still needs to be properly lit.
Come the springtime when the weather eases, our lights must look their pristine best and illuminate the magical seaside nightscape for a new season of visitors.
A product was therefore needed to meet these expectations and be robust enough to last for many years in a harsh coastal environment. The totems were designed with open gaps at each end to remove dirt and debris.
The LED equipment had to be housed with a high level of ingress protection; sealed against the weather and yet accessible for maintenance. The structures had to be tall enough to stand out yet suitably squat and sturdy to resist the severest of winds, as well as resisting the abuses of vandals, revellers and children.
The in-ground linear lighting had to meet the same requirements, with the added capability of needing to be being driven over. This would include by ice-cream vans, fire engines, fairground equipment and even occasionally the local lifeboat on its launch trailer.
Progressing steadily, we invited key stakeholders in the project to visit our headquarters in Hertfordshire during February 2019, where we had prepared images, lighting plans and working prototypes for their inspection. On approval, the designs were finalised and prepared for manufacturing.
The specially manufactured stainless-steel mesh encasing the totem columns is not only marine grade and very robust but also difficult for litter to be pushed through, and difficult to climb.
The mesh and rings reflect the changing colours in interesting and overlapping patterns. The LEDs are fully controllable to allow for themed scenes.
Complementary colours can be set to reflect the environment – blue from the lower section meets orange from the upper creating interesting reflections of the sunrise over the water.
The cabling is concealed to the upper compartment and each section has a discreet access panel for maintenance. We devised the lighting using our range of IP67 Ligman RGBW units, with an interface by Mode Lighting to the scheme’s central controls.
The framework is hot-dipped galvanised then painted using Polysiloxane PSX paint that has been especially developed for saline environments. Oil rigs, bridges and promenades benefit from its 25-year guarantee for colour retention.
The totems were designed to be assembled off-site and then crane-lifted into position, hoisted as a single piece on to their fabricated roots. To provide even more protection, these were then hot-dipped galvanised with glass-flake root protection.
The Vaio in-ground LED strips were designed with aluminium frames buried into a suitably drained surface. This allowed the IP67-rated units to be installed with cables and connectors kept above any run-off water that might flow underneath.
The site is vulnerable to rainwater, over-spraying waves, spillages and passing traffic, so the simplistic, fully encapsulated design of the product was ideal. The Vaio can withstand a 15,000kg vehicle or a direct load of 588kN.
The manufacturing process continued steadily, aiming for completion at the end of March 2020 when, along with the rest of the world, everything paused with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nevertheless, we managed to ship the Vaio lighting in mid-April of that year, allowing the contractors plenty of time to install during that strange Covid springtime. Thankfully, the open site with its fresh sea air was quick to reopen and works progressed.
We were then finally permitted to hoist the lighting columns into position in the autumn. That meant they could be well established, tried and tested throughout the dark winter and ready for the coming spring.
Following the completion and commissioning of the scheme, positive feedback was received, as Edward and Julie from SVA discuss in the next article.
Since becoming involved in the Bridlington Redevelopment, we have learned much and developed many useful innovations for future schemes.
Often, we find that, by pushing the boundaries of our own capabilities, we develop the next generation of products. This is why at DW Windsor we always appreciate demanding commissions for intriguing schemes. It is the special projects of today that form the building blocks of tomorrow’s standards.
This scheme is completely unique to the town. This is Bridlington. Where the sun rises over the sea, and the rainbows are reflected along the promenade.
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