IHBC Yearbook 2014

32 Y E A R B O O K 2 0 1 4 LIGHTING THE WALLED CITY PAUL MILLAR The Walled City of Derry~Londonderry is the only complete walled city in Ireland. The Northern Ireland Tourist Board recognised the importance of this unique heritage site in 2004 when it designated the walled city as one of the five Signature Tourism Projects for Northern Ireland with Titanic Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway, St Patrick in Downpatrick and Armagh, and the Mourne Mountains. In 2013 Derry was designated UK City of Culture. As part of the second phase of the Walled City Signature Project, the ongoing Walled City Lighting Project builds on previous tourism-linked regeneration initiatives in the city. The innovative and creative lighting strategy involves the illumination of six key historic buildings: the city’s Guildhall, St Columb’s Cathedral, the Playhouse Theatre, First Presbyterian Church, the Apprentice Boys’ Memorial Hall, Aras Colmcille (a historic school building) and the surface and original gates of the historic city walls. Following the successful delivery of the project in 2013, Derry City Council decided on behalf of the Built Heritage Partners to add the c1872 neogothic church of St Augustine’s to the scheme in early 2014. The objective of the lighting strategy was to illuminate and visually enhance key elements of the city’s built heritage, and to encourage visitors to stay longer in the city throughout the year. As part of a multi-disciplinary team with electrical consultants Gillespie & Cummings and lighting consultants Light + Design Associates Ltd, Kriterion Conservation Architects (Kriterion) was closely involved in implementing the lighting strategy. The architects undertook a built heritage report for each of the six buildings originally selected, as well as for the historic city walls, bastions and gates. Lighting trials were conducted in November 2012. DESIGN ISSUES Historic buildings, structures and monuments are often important examples of architecture and engineering and many have been transformed and visually brought to life at night with appropriately designed external lighting schemes. Inevitably, the installation of external light fittings and the associated cabling involves fixing equipment to the fabric of the building. A key priority of the project was to ensure that any works to buildings and monuments within the walled city did not disturb or destroy historic fabric, so workshops were conducted on-site by Kriterion outlining best conservation practice. In deciding how best to illuminate a building, principles of minimum intervention and reversibility were followed at all times. Thoughtfully designed external lighting can enhance night-time use and improve the visitor experience, potentially bringing significant economic benefits. When carried out professionally, the lighting scheme becomes part of the architecture, offering a different view to the observer and complementing the building’s materials and architectural form. However, a poorly designed and executed scheme can highlight flaws in the building or afford views of the structure that were never meant to be seen. Several key considerations are crucial to successful lighting scheme design and these are outlined below. EXTENT OF EXTERNAL LIGHTING Lighting every aspect of a building may not be justified, and certain elevations may be unsuitable or hidden from view. It is often best to concentrate on those elevations and features which would have the greatest impact on the townscape at The Apprentice Boys’ Memorial Hall (c1877) (All photos: Sammonds Photography)