71 Fenchurch Street is an architecturally significant glass and steel medium rise office building that has recently undergone a refurbishment led by Fletcher Priest Architects (FPA). Lighting design studio Speirs + Major were commissioned to develop a new lighting approach for the exterior entrance, courtyard and main reception, the centrepiece of which is an installation of beautifully integrated bespoke pendants in the lobby atrium.
The renowned building is set within a sensitive conservation area adjacent to a number of listed buildings. Owned by technical and business services organisation Lloyd’s Register, it was purpose designed by Richard Rogers Partnership (now Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners) and completed in 2000. From the street the entrance is through an archway set into the façade. Warm uplighting to the arch improves the visibility of the entrance and frames the silhouette of a mature tree to provide an enticing view to the building beyond. Within the courtyard light and darkness are carefully balanced to create a sense of place.
Uplighting of the stone perimeter wall enhances the feeling of enclosure and privacy, with the softly uplit foliage creating an illuminated canopy overhead. Warm white light is used throughout in contrast to the cool white interior glow from the offices. Lighting is neatly integrated into benches and stairs, leading visitors through to the reception lobby.
The interior lighting concept was developed to improve both the arrival experience and first impressions, while responding to the volume, rhythm and geometry of the architecture.
For the general lighting of the reception atrium, Speirs + Major recommended a new suspended element. All parties agreed that though introducing such a prominent feature into an architecturally significant building required careful consideration it would bring a welcome sense of human scale and add character to the space.
Further layers of lighting provide highlights to selected features. The wall behind the reception desk has been uplit to form a backdrop, and an array of custom designed suspended direct/indirect lighting systems draws attention to the vaulted ceilings, replacing the redundant original services arrangements. The scheme is finished off with a pair of floor lamps placed within the single height seating zones, to evoke a more domestic ambience.
The design process for developing the bespoke pendants was necessarily rigorous. It was crucial that the form be complementary to the architecture, sitting comfortably and harmoniously within the space. To begin, Speirs+ Major studied the grids inherent in the building geometry. From this the preferred spatial nodes were identified, from which the square-ended form of the pendants were extruded by 3.2m – in alignment with the height of a single floor. A blue finish to the interior makes subtle reference to the maritime heritage of Lloyd’s Register.
The space between the forms was considered as important as the forms themselves, and perfect alignment in the X, Y and Z-axes was critical. Developed in collaboration with manufacturer Mike Stoane Lighting, numerous tests were carried out and a full-scale mock-up was conducted on site to assess the lighting effect and the scale of the pendants, while resolving a myriad of technical issues.
The final solution sees the pendants elegantly suspended from a primary frame that can be raised and lowered by motorised winches for maintenance. The lit effect on the floor can be varied from a strong grid to a softly dappled pattern, bringing out the natural grain and warm colour of the new wooden flooring in contrast to the cool crispness of the original architecture.
Two further products were developed for the lighting of the vaulted ceilings. Working with the existing chilled beam luminaires, a bespoke LED cassette was developed to replace the existing fluorescent light source. A complimentary suspended direct/indirect luminaire provides the lighting where there is no chilled beam, achieving an improved and consistent quality of light across all the vaults.