Lighting

Pharos showcases the splendour of Lincoln Cathedral

4th May 2022
Paige West

Standing tall over the city, Lincoln Cathedral is a magnificent and iconic international landmark, and one of Britain’s most spectacular pieces of architecture. Once admired as the tallest building in the world, the spire at Lincoln Cathedral was an impressive feat of engineering, reaching a remarkable 525 feet before the central spire collapsed in 1548, nearly 250 years after its completion, and was never replaced.

The cathedral has provided a beacon of light for residents of the city and visitors to enjoy, whilst being viewed from vantage points all over the county and beyond.

As part of Lincoln Cathedral Connected – a multi-million-pound transformational project funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund – significant work has been undertaken to radically improve the cathedral’s setting and visitor experience, offering engaging and dynamic spaces for many more visitors to enjoy.

Light Perceptions, which provides a highly specialised lighting design service for historic buildings, was appointed to deliver a new lighting system to replace the exterior lighting at the cathedral. The previous exterior lighting was installed in 1970 and became obsolete; it accumulated very high running costs and posed other challenges in terms of care and maintenance. The uplighting for the cathedral’s three towers needed replacing, and an essential component of the design brief was to change the orange-tinted floodlights for softer, whiter lights, to showcase the cathedral’s intricate stonework and Gothic features.

In accordance with the carefully considered lighting brief, Pharos Architectural Controls was selected by Light Perceptions to bring the project to life, using Pharos Cloud to control the external lighting scheme remotely. Pharos Cloud offers simple and secure lighting installation control and management remotely from any PC, tablet or mobile, any time and from anywhere in the world. Featuring a highly adaptable online scheduler, Pharos Cloud enables lighting to be programmed for just the right moment and updated by users with ease, making it the perfect solution for Lincoln Cathedral, which requires versatile lighting to deliver a variety of colour options when lighting the towers in recognition of important, local, national, and international events. 

The installation uses a dynamic lighting control system, also from Pharos. Lincoln Cathedral features a Pharos LPC 2 (Lighting Playback Controller 2), connected to Pharos Cloud, which supports the DMX lighting protocol, and seventeen RIO D (Remote Input Output DALI) devices, which provide a remote and scalable way to control all the DALI fixtures and ballasts. Each RIO D supports a single DALI bus, which is used as an output for control and as an input for triggering, allowing the cathedral to be lit in beautiful, colourful lighting scenes.

Five Pharos TPS (Touch Panel Station) screens have been integrated into the scheme to provide users with a customised interface to trigger and adjust scenes, timelines, and overrides. It was essential for the cathedral’s new lighting to reap the benefits of LED technology to ensure the lighting was more environmentally friendly, had a longer working life, and required considerably less maintenance.

Lighting fixture manufacturers Meyer, iGuzzini and Studio Due were integral to the success of this project, which featured Studio Due’s Citybeam LED SL84 RGBW (High Power) to deliver a powerful beam of light and long-distance outdoor colour change with single LEDs. The lighting and controls were supplied and installed by Experience Lighting and Lighting Assist. The electrical contractor was G-Tech.

Commenting on the project, Tim Edwards at Pharos Architectural Controls said: “Lincoln Cathedral is a phenomenal structure which, to this day, has stood the test of time. It has been a great pleasure to work with Light Perceptions over many years and the wider project team to deliver a futureproofed lighting solution that ensures the cathedral continues to shine for years to come. Lincoln Cathedral has great significance to the people of Lincoln, and we take great pride in the role that Pharos has played to ensure it runs efficiently and is fit for the modern day.”

Bruce Kirk, Director at Light Perceptions said: “We are immensely proud of the work carried out at Lincoln Cathedral. As we celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary, this is undoubtedly one of the most significant projects we have had the pleasure of working on. Both the city and the cathedral are steeped in history and, as with any project in an historic environment, there were a number of hurdles to overcome. The flexibility and adaptability of the lighting efficiency was a key priority throughout, and Pharos’ contribution was important to the project's success with the installation of a dynamic and straightforward control solution. In addition, the cathedral team were immensely enthusiastic and supportive of the project.”

Michael Sheppard, Director of Works and Property at Lincoln Cathedral added: “Our cathedral has become a spectacular beacon of light. The impact of the new dynamic lighting scheme has been profound, coupled with the Pharos control solutions which have enabled us to communicate and portray messages through the medium of colour, from the ease and comfort of a phone.

“The cathedral can now mark specific dates and occasions in the calendar supporting our key mission. Recently we have lit the towers in purple to represent Lent, and in blue and yellow to show solidarity with the Ukraine. As well as looking great, this transformational lighting scheme has also allowed us to reduce energy costs, helping us reach our goal of carbon net zero by 2030. It has been a pleasure to work all the project partners, especially Light Perceptions – whose service throughout has been second to none.”

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