One of the key themes of the 2012 London Summer Olympics was “Legacy.” The organizers of the London Olympics were acutely aware that all of the new facilities and infrastructure constructed for the games should serve as the foundation for the redevelopment of the 618-acre site in East London and provide long-lasting benefits to the city and its residents.
To that end, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which knits together the various Olympic venues has now entered into its “After the Games” life. Helping to oversee the work is lighting firm Speirs + Major, who developed the original lighting master plan for the Olympic Park and Athlete’s Village. As part of the competition-winning group appointed to transform the Olympic sites, the goal has been to create a series of engaging parkland, waterways, and outdoor spaces for all Londoners.
The main lighting element of the park is a custom-designed catenary system developed for the Promenade, the main thoroughfare, which runs from Orbit Plaza to the Carpenters Lock. Perforated, “moon-like” spheres are suspended over the walkway and emit a dappled light from a custom-designed LED light module developed to provide the required light distribution and work with the catenary system. The illuminated tree canopy to each side frames this bold and playful lighting element.
The interior of each sphere is painted in shades of green and blue and the spheres themselves are ordered in such a way that the entire chain of fixtures gradually shifts in color over the course of the path. The addition of the interior color helps give the lighting effect a sense of depth and creates a perspective sight line that guides visitors along the walkway. The effect also recalls the feel of light filtering through a canopy of trees in a forest and creates a dynamic environment in which people are animated with light—and with dark.
Other elements within the park have all been revisited and are illuminated to meet general lighting, safety, and security requirements. At night, the lighting of the swing seats along the Promenade, accomplished with 9W 3000K LED downlights in the swing’s supporting beam, provide bursts of illumination and provide a contrast to the dark of the night sky.
The new lighting elements build on the strategy originally developed as part of the Olympic lighting master plan. Attention is paid to how light is used to provide parkgoers with different visual cues as they navigate the grounds. Some areas are lit, while others are purposely left dark to create a natural balance in illumination levels. The overall effect is an enchanting urban nighttime environment.
Project: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London • Client: London Legacy Development Co., London • Architect: Make Architecture, London • Lighting Designer: Speirs + Major, London • Team Members: Mark Major, Philip Rose, Hiroto Toyoda, Ting Ji • Executive Lighting Designer: Michael Grubb Studio, Bournemouth, England • Landscape Architect: James Corner Field Operations, New York • Photographer: James Newton Photographs, London • Project Size: 369,477 square feet • Project and Lighting Costs: Withheld • Watts per Square Foot: 0.03W • Code Compliance: Not Applicable • Manufacturers: ACDC, iGuzzini, Mike Stoane Lighting, Philips
• The lighting provides an immersive, playful experience that integrates with the landscape. • There is a heightened theatrical nature through the light that gives the park a magical feeling. • The use of the colors blue and green—to create a sense of depth—is effective. • The lighting design allows you to experience darkness comfortably with sufficient light levels.