Night of Heritage Light – Radcliffe Camera, Oxford, UK

dpa were invited to take part in an event on 29th September 2017 showcasing the talents of the Society of Light and Lighting (SLL) (and CIBSE) and in particular the local members, the wider community and research expertise within Oxford. This event was part of another Night of Heritage Light & Pockets of Light (NoHL & PoL) organised by the SLL and CIBSE. It was also in collaboration with the Curiosity Carnival as part of the European Researchers’ Night across 25 Countries celebrating research and science.

Lighting is an art form as well as a science and as lighting designers we are challenged with new technologies, which ultimately provide an improvement to our ability to design creative schemes. Science and technology play a huge role in lighting development and provide us with more incredible tools in which to design, sculpt and paint our environments with light. Our Oxfordshire studio was delighted to be given the iconic Radcliffe Camera to light as part of the NoHL & PoL, along with other local lighting design practices and artists working on several other notable and significant buildings.

For ‘The Camera’, as it is fondly known in Oxford, our story starts with the beautiful neo-classical architecture and our desire to expose this at night, as it has never been artificially lit as an architectural treatment since it was built in the early 1700’s.

Our design approach therefore started with darkness. We looked at key architectural features and how ‘layers of light’ could best represent the building at night. We only lit half of the building to express the significance of how lighting intervention could expose the beautiful and intricate details, materials and marks of its history. Coincidentally a ½ moon fell on the night so that influenced our thoughts too during the design process. We also controlled the ‘layers of light’ with the use of a lighting control system which we sequenced every ½ hour running through the various ‘layers’ from a dark building to a fully lit one, from the ground up and back. Again, this little nod to the power of light was intentional as part of the overall night to showcase the importance of light, science, and art or however individuals interpret our medium.

We were fortunate to attract the artist Emma Safe who drew ‘The Camera’ over the 3-hour period of the event. The stunning charcoal drawing can be seen here along with the photographs of the lit Radcliffe Camera.

We would like to thank the University of Oxford for their kind permission and assistance to allow us to light this magnificent building as well as the assistance from Monard Electrical who were responsible for the sensitive installation of the lighting equipment. We were also grateful to a number of manufacturers who supported the project with lighting equipment.

Photography: Courtesy of Sotirios Stamatopoulos – dpa lighting consultants and Matthew Hicks (last image of artist Emma Safe)