Leading a town forward with vibrant lighting
The Ouseburn Valley, a small region along the Ouseburn tributary of the Tyne River in Newcastle, England, has had a turbulent history. A central hub during the industrial revolution, Ouseburn declined along with the region's heavy industry, only to be reborn in recent years as a center of creativity and entrepreneurship. Ouseburn now offers a multitude of attractions, including music venues, recording studios, galleries, and pubs. One outstanding example of Ouseburn's rebirth is the newly renovated Toffee Factory. A previously derelict building crippled by time, usage, and a fire that took its roof, the factory was transformed into an award-winning office complex in 2011.
The original Toffee Factory building was erected in 1878 as a cattle sanitarium. Through the years, it served as a lard warehouse, a sawmill, a storage facility, and a candy factory, before fire ravaged the premises in 1993. Despite the devastation, Newcastle City Council and local development company 1NG saw promise in the historic site, and to further encourage the entrepreneurial spirit taking root in Ouseburn, they enlisted a team of experts, headed by xsite architecture to transform the dilapidated structure into a dynamic, flexible office space for digital and creative businesses of all sizes. The building is now bathed in vibrant, color-changing light, courtesy of high-quality LED lighting fixtures from Color Kinetics.
xsite's clever architectural redesign plays on the contrast between the factory's rich history and its stylish, present-day identity. To emphasize the modern, lime-green-paneled rooftop that xsite designed above the original brickwork, the Stainton lighting design team, led by director Anthony Smith and senior lighting designer Steve Edwards, patterned shadows along the rugged, aged brick of the old façade. They then swept complementary cool, white light across the new rooftop to emphasize its brilliant green color. Twenty-seven 600 mm (2 ft) eW Graze Powercore luminaires, were surface-mounted at the top of each façade buttress, highlighting the modern roof and provide a dramatic visual extension to the building's lighting.
In addition to illuminating the main building, Stainton emphasized the factory's trademark surrounding structures: four gateway arches — together forming the substructure of the Glasshouse Bridge — and a 30 m (98 ft) high chimney.
"One of our fundamental aims was to create a very vibrant and exciting entrance to the Ouseburn Valley," Edwards said.
The Stainton team had to be sure that their lighting solution was intense and exciting enough to draw attention even from a distance. Enter Color Kinetics. "One of the major benefits of partnering up with Color Kinetics on a project of this size is the availability of a large number of different samples that we can use for both initial trialing and client demonstration," said Edwards. "It really helped show the client our aims and visions for the project."
The final illumination is breathtaking. Sixty-four total 1.2 m (4 ft) ColorGraze Powercore luminaires, encased in IP-rated housings specially constructed by LITE, illuminate the walls of the four arches with striking, colorful light. The luminaires, spaced 250 mm (10 in) from the walls, also bring out the original brick detailing.
To light the massive chimney, the team used three 1.2 m (4 ft) ColorReach Powercore floodlights positioned 500 mm (1.6 ft) from its base. They also installed a Pharos LPC 1 within the chimney to produce bold, color-changing lighting effects for the chimney. The powerful floodlights create high visibility. With long useful life and reliable operation, they avoid frequent relamping and repairs, drastically reducing maintenance costs.
Energy savings were a central goal of the Toffee Factory's overall design, along with minimizing future maintenance costs — another reason why LED lighting proved the most viable solution. The entire project would meet BREEAM sustainability requirements, and the lighting system afforded the energy savings necessary to achieve — and exceed — this goal. According to Stainton's conservative estimate, the LED lighting solution consumes 60% less energy than comparable conventional systems, helping Toffee Factory achieve a BREEAM "Very Good" rating.
In 2012, Toffee Factory won two prestigious Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Awards — Regeneration of the Year and Project of the Year — and two Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Awards — Northeast Sustainable Building of the Year and North East Building of the Year. More than twenty businesses now occupy Toffee Factory's modern offices. At night, people congregate to pose against the glowing arch lights, share images and comments on social media sites, and attend outdoor events set against a backdrop as dynamic as the Valley itself. "It's always great to produce a real 'wow factor' and really excite people," Edwards said.