Sutton Vane Associates was part of a team led for the independent charity Historic Royal Palaces by interpretive planner and exhibition designer Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA). The £2.5 million refurbishment of the Jewel House helps show the contents of the vault and other parts of the Jewel House as they have never been seen before. The lighting markedly improves the visitor’s visual experience, giving important items due prominence and highlighting individual objects to generate multicoloured reflections and sparkle.
The practice’s team was led by principal Mark Sutton Vane, who explained, ‘the technical challenge was lighting glittering objects within glass cases so accurately and discreetly that they can be viewed clearly from a range of angles. The original scheme for the cases relied almost entirely on lighting from above, casting shadows and reducing the visual impact of precious items.’
The scheme was specially designed to let visitors' eyes adjust when they come in from the daylight. The resulting solution saw the 12 year old Helvar system being upgraded to a Helvar DALI setup to facilitate a greater level of control and the introduction of LED sources.
For greater sustainability, the scheme upgraded the existing fibre optic systems and lanterns. New wiring mainly follows the old cabling routes to reduce impact on the fabric of the historic building. The upgraded control system provides a more efficient, robust and reliable setup and expands the lifespan by implementing new technologies.
The new router forms part of a DALI control layer which allows for future expansion utilising DALI or DMX loads. The following presets have been put in place to create the correct light levels for either functionality or aesthetic purposes:
- Exhibition Mode
- Security Mode
- Emergency Mode
- Cleaning Mode
- Light Show
Further to these settings, a fire alarm interface has been deployed which activates when the fire alarm is raised.
“Our wishes for this project were to make it as sustainable as possible and to do no damage to the historic building,” adds Mark. “The existing Helvar Imagine system was still working perfectly after many years of good service, so it was decided to replace the tungsten dimming modules for modules that could handle the new low energy LED and fluorescent loads. This meant that the reliable system could stay in place without having to change the installation or the wiring.”
Updating the existing Helvar platform has given the Jewel House the desired light levels that best showcase the exhibition. The efficient upgrade also offers a sustainable solution for another 12 years of reliable, effective service.