Welsh Castles

    Wales, United Kingdom

    Photo Credits: Louise Stickland

    Castles glow with new light in Wales

    Known as The Land of Castles, Wales is home to some of the oldest castles in the world, a few of them built over 950 years ago. Roughly 600 of these iconic fortresses cover the landscape, and are popular tourist destinations every year. When the site lighting for these historic structures became outdated, Cadw, the historic environment service of the Welsh Assembly Government, was tasked with finding a new lighting solution to be implemented in 18 of the most impressive castles.

    The Cadw team needed a lighting solution that would reduce energy, enhance tourist enjoyment, and ensure the health and safety of visitors. The team also had to find a system that would be easy and unobtrusive to install due to the castles' sensitive foundations. Since the fortresses are prime tourist attractions in Wales, the sites had to remain open during the installation period.

    Neal O'Leary, Cadw's program manager, emphasized the caution that would be required for the installation. "This historic environment is also a fragile resource and therefore we have an obligation and duty to manage them in a sensitive and sustainable way for future generations to enjoy," said O'Leary. "We are therefore pleased to be working with Signify to ensure that our castles are shown to best effect, but also that we have done so in a way which is sustainable as well."

    The first castles to be completed in the project, Castle Coch and Caerphilly Castle, were both illuminated with eW Reach Powercore floodlights (now specified with ReachElite). With extended light projection and light output of over 10,000 lumens, these powerful LED floodlights are specifically designed to illuminate large exterior surfaces.

    On Coch, which was built between 1871 and 1891 and described as the fairytale castle of Wales, these luminaires brighten the upper turret areas from ground level. Due to the intense illumination, the team installed only half the number of luminaires previously used to light the site, resulting in a 60% decrease in energy consumption.

    On Caerphilly Castle, which was built between 1268 and 1290 and is one of the largest medieval castles in the UK, eW Reach Powercore luminaires illuminate the high walls of the fortress from moat level. The team placed these neutral white lights in 4000 K on the projected and recessed fascias to make the castle noticeable from the highway at night. For the interior of Caerphilly, the team used eW Graze Powercore grazing luminaires in a warm white 2700 K to make the paler stones look more appealing.

    Color Kinetics LED luminaires are used similarly throughout all 18 castles to illuminate the high walls and accentuate the exterior textures of the fortresses. The team reused existing fixture mounting points, taking out the old fittings and replacing them with new LED fittings, which caused minimal disruption and protected the fragile foundations of the sites.

    By replacing the previous lighting systems with this new lighting solution, the government successfully maintained the historical atmosphere and improved the safety of the sites. The government predicts that the new lighting systems will achieve yearly energy savings of 50%, and reduce CO2 emissions by 92 tons (206,080 lbs).
    Project credits



    Lighting Designer:

    Signify UK

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