Highgate School - Chapel

Photographer: Samar Rezvan

The new lighting scheme by award winning company Peter Deer and Associates for the library and learning resources centre at Highgate School, London, features four bespoke chandeliers created with Precision Lighting’s Oculus spotlights and Basis Track. The chandeliers can be raised and lowered to accommodate different uses of the space.

London architect Clague, created the new Sir Martin Gilbert Library at Highgate, retaining the Victorian shell of the Grade II-listed Big School built in 1866 by Fredrick Pepys Cockerell. Clague’s architecturally sympathetic conversion includes a new mezzanine floor for a perimeter gallery and adapts the space for a library and learning resources centre.

Following the successful completion of a new teaching block for Highgate School, Peter Deer and Associates were asked to provide Building Services and lighting design for the existing Big School Hall & Chapel. Peter Deer and Associates were asked to design a low energy and low maintenance scheme for this Grade II listed building. The refurbishment was to preserve the original Victorian Gothic architecture and house all existing books from the previous library, whilst containing all the new modern technology required for a futuristic e-library.

New, efficient LED lighting was specified for the library by Peter Deer and Associates. Due to previous collaborations on projects such as the Royal Academy of Art, Peter Deer and Associates looked to Precision Lighting for the discrete, efficient and reliable fittings they are renowned for. The scheme was designed to provide functional lighting for everyday usage whilst accentuating the details in the surrounding architecture with a play of light and shadow. The new LED chandeliers were designed in conjunction with Precision Lighting to resemble the existing gothic, iron chandeliers. The brushed aluminium finish of the Precision Lighting chandeliers and spotlights highlights the new stainless steel floating mezzanine, stairs and handrails. Oculus LED spotlights were chosen for their small size and bespoke finish meaning that they would blend in perfectly with the surrounding beams and trusses.

Peter Deer and Associates considered the various events the library environment is used for and so, opted for a flexible lighting scheme which would work for the multiple purposes. For normal library use, Peter Deer and Associates set the chandeliers at an optimum height for lighting efficiency. For alternative purposes, the chandeliers could be raised and lowered as required through the use of high-level winches. This also enables the use of a projector, and aids any future maintenance required. The chandelier design “followed complex parameters,” says Precision Lighting Design Manager Peter McClelland. “Each chandelier is suspended from just two points so that it can be moved up and down using synchronised winches. We ensured that the track was rigid and would not flex; stabilised with a custom-built seamlessly welded brushed aluminium ring that goes on top of the matching, circular Basis Track”. There are 10 Oculus 16 spotlights on each chandelier.

The winches are mounted and concealed behind a bespoke metal disk. The winch mounts also incorporate de-stratification fans which release warm air through the centre of the suspended metal disk and chandelier. “The other reason that we could only use two cables was to avoid disrupting the airflow from the library’s new ventilation system,” McClelland adds. “It is all very well thought out and required engineering to a very high specification. Precision Lighting has research and development facilities in London where we are able to test out custom solutions as awell as working on new or improved designs”. The fans can also be lowered through the centre of the chandelier for low-level maintenance.

In the chapel, the existing Victorian wall lights were taken down and restored to their original brass and green painted iron. Original incandescent lamps were replaced with low energy lamps with new glass shades to provide glare-free, soft lighting. Compact Oculus LED fixtures were installed to improve light levels on the higher levels.

The lighting scheme by Peter Deer and Associates has enhanced the internal spaces; providing an area which is functional and versatile. The clever lighting design has enhanced the original building features and has been appreciated by all staff, pupils and visitors.

The Oculus LED luminaire, machined from 6063-T6 aluminium for its thermal and aesthetic qualities, embodies the Victorian ideal of high quality engineering but has a contemporary look that suits it perfectly to Clague’s design. Its design includes movement aided with a low-friction bearing rotation and constant torque tilt mechanism and the ability to lock it in pan and tilt.

Lighting Designer

Peter Deer and Associates


London, United Kingdom