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Open University Jennie Lee Building

University building

issue 45 October / November 2008

When The Open University wanted to create a cutting edge research department for its Institute of Education Technology and Computing Department, the design concept called for a comprehensive lighting solution.

To remain at the forefront of teaching and learning through the application of educational technology, the new Jennie Lee Building required an environment conducive to high performance learning. As an integral part of the £13 million development, RIDI was chosen to provide the lighting at the 5,000m2 facility.

As a new build project, RIDI was able to join Swanke Hayden Connell Architects (SHCA) and consultant Buro Happold in the design process from the outset, ensuring that the lighting both brought about the optimum learning environment, and contributed to a highly sustainable building. 

The main objective in specifying the lighting components was to match the modern architecture of the new building – with features such as its stunning central atrium – but also to make for the most relaxing study environment. Naturally, with the number of computers in use within the Education Technology department, it was vital to minimise obstacles to concentration in the form of glare and reflection.

In terms of the different lighting requirements within the multi-use facility, RIDI’s broad range of versatile products and its ability to provide a number of luminaires particularly suited to the education sector resulted in Buro Happold specifying RIDI lighting throughout the majority of the building, as consultant, Hakeem Makanju explains:

“With a wide choice of both suspended and recessed luminaires, versatile in their application, coupled with RIDI’s intelligent control systems, we were able to specify products that matched precisely the variety of educational and study requirements of this flagship university building. The control element, specifically designed for The Open University project, also meant that we could meet the client’s need for lighting control flexibility and the architect’s desire to provide a contemporary building design with a highly sustainable rating.”

The effect created by RIDI is apparent as soon as you enter the building into the striking atrium. A continuous waved strip following the recessed contours of the central upper walkway has been created by the use of a number of RIDI’s LF Opal luminaires. A simple angular formed opal luminaire delivering a crisp and wide light distribution, the LF was set into the recesses in linear runs, accentuating the curves of the walkway feature. Running alongside the strip of LFs, along each outer edge of the platform, is a line of RIDI’s latest recessed spotlight, the 20W compact metal halide Tango R – providing an eye-catching centrepiece to the public area.

Mirroring the effect in the atrium and taking the continuous lighting run theme through the rest of the building, the corridors are lit by RIDI’s Venice light channels. Available in clean-cut extruded aluminium and used either as a surface mounted or recessed luminaire, the modular Venice light channel is available in both continuous louvred or opal version which also has an option for overlapping lamps so that the effect of a continuous light can be achieved.

With its high-reflect aluminium matt parabolic louvre providing an even, glare free spread of downlighting, Venice was also the choice in the all important study areas of the building, where the light channels were fitted with the optional dummy covers to create the effect of dark intersections along the run.
Walking between study rooms, in the open upper floor areas of the building, you see the use of Tango spotlights in their surface mounted form – making an attractive feature of the columns throughout. Tango is perfectly suited to public areas where decorative yet energy efficient lighting is required. Primarily a track mounted luminaire with a number of angle distributions taking light spread from a close range at 12 degrees to a flood effect at 36 degrees, Tango is available in a variety of versions from the high intensity, low energy 12W LED, through the miniature 20W Philips Metal halide and 20W, 35W and 70W discharge versions.

Completing the comprehensive Open University installation, the meeting rooms are lit with several suspended runs of ALI T5 luminaires. With a compact square section profile these provide precise optical control through a matt anodised louvre and achieve a 50/50 balance of uplighting and downlighting.


Open University Jennie Lee Building Open University Jennie Lee Building
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