newsletter link
mondo arc

Pan Peninsula, London, England

Issue 48 Apr / May 2009 : Architectural : Façade

Lighting Design: MBLD Architect: SOM


Maurice Brill Lighting Design has delivered an extraordinary scheme for this residential development to set it apart from commercial activity in the area.

Thursday 22 January 2009 saw the official opening of Ballymore Properties’ landmark residential building, the Pan Peninsula, at Mill Harbour near London’s Canary Wharf.

One of Europe’s tallest residential buildings at 509ft, this 50-storey building consists of two towers, the top and sides of which are illuminated by external LED feature lighting. The LEDs form a series of asymmetrical patterns of intersecting horizontal and vertical strips across the top five storeys of each tower, with longer strips extending vertically to the full height on each side. Reflected in the water below and surmounting a signature restaurant and a 50th floor cocktail bar with panoramic views of London, the lighting serves to increase the aura of this world-class architecture.

When the developer Ballymore decided to add the tallest residential towers of London to the skyline, they wanted them to stand out amongst all the commercial buildings in the vicinity. The way to achieve this was, apart from creating interesting architecture, to add a very unique facade lighting concept that would accentuate this icon during the dark hours.

Maurice Brill Lighting Design (MBLD) got involved with the project because of this exciting proposal, as well as to design the landscape and the interior lighting. Concept design started in 2005 with the intention to develop a lighting scheme that would set it apart from any other skyscraper in the area. After all, nobody wanted it to appear like another monumental bank tower.

In order to achieve this, MBLD has created a concept that would merge with the building architecture, namely with the long vertical lines on the building, but especially with the prominent signature tops of both towers.

“Whilst the majority of Canary Wharf has buildings with lit crowns, our approach was to reflect the fact this was a residential building and not a commercial one,” said lead designer Christian Wendel of Maurice Brill Lighting Design. The only way to satisfy the planners that the scheme would employ sensitive levels of coloured light was to initially do some sophisticated 3D renderings. Ballymore appointed Hayes Davidson to do computer renderings with accurate modelling to communicate their design. On-site mock ups were used very early in the process. This was invaluable in getting the project approved by the local authority. Also, due to the fact that every apartment has floor to ceiling glass, it was essential the impact on the apartments in the opposite tower was carefully considered.

During a long development process Selux and INSTA combined their expertise to produce the required custom fittings. Whilst Insta provided the IP rated LED units, Selux took care of the housing that had to be coordinated with Schneider, the cladding company. Ballymore ensured that the several miles of power and control cabling found their way into the building and to the central systems.

An installation as huge as this had a lot of issues to deal with. Several units had to be reproduced due to the small tolerances. Rain and even snow did not always allow the high level cradle to abseil down the façades that resulted in delays.

Programming of the facades also proved difficult as scene setting could never be seen from all four sides at the same time so three dimensional imagination and software was required to allow for this rather special application.

Things got even more challenging when Ballymore commissioned a special opening light show at the end of November which was set to happen on the 22nd January to celebrate the completion of the project.
With very limited time on their hands MBLD collaborated with Artistic Licence to create a show event that would run for five minutes to orchestral music. All the invited guests, amongst them the speaker Lord Sebastian Coe, enjoyed the spectacular architectural lighting from on top of a building terrace at the other side of the bay.

After the successful opening night MBLD decided on far more subtle and static non-primary colours for the permanent scenes for the building facades. Every day of the week has its own colour combination in order to appear as a new ‘outfit’. Every now and then the static scenes get interrupted by a short ‘event’ that only locals would know when to expect giving it a unique urban character which normally only giant ‘coco clocks’ in continental Europe have.

As the buildings are in view of the 2012 Olympic site, Ballymore wanted to explore the role that Pan Peninsula beacons could play in this major event. During the opening show a screen drew on this connection but was not meant for permanent installation. Drawing closer to the Olympics, Ballymore is planning to put this on the agenda again for permanent installation in which case even the results of the games could be prominently displayed on top of the buildings.

Looking at this new icon, one realises how unique this project is in London where facade lighting usually consists of either uplighting or in some, more bolt-on approaches, of loveless coloured lights. The difference in this case is the degree to which this concept has merged with the architecture resulting in this very carefully considered design. Thanks to this synergy something completely new has been created for this new London landmark.





When Andrew Briggs of Ballymore walked onto the INSTA stand at The ARC Show 2006 he enquired about a project INSTA had recently completed featuring vertical, seamless lines of light using a system based on the LEDLUX linear range. Little did INSTA know that this would lead to supplying well over 2000 metres of addressable colour changing LED system.

The external facade concept has two basic fitting types; vertical continuous fittings on the main facades and vertical and horizontal fittings to the tops of the towers, known as the ‘Lantern top’, so named as the fittings resemble lanterns providing strong lighting features that are very visible on the skyline and change colour in sequences. “Very early on we wanted to stay away from primary colours as much as possible,” said Christian Wendel.

In the early negotiation stages Ballymore, the developer and project managers, were emphatic that whoever was awarded the contract must supply all the equipment and controls and install it. INSTA formed a partnership with Semperlux GmbH, recognising them as leaders in exterior fixtures, to design a suitable housing. They also had the ability to offer a team from Germany who could work closely with the German Cladding company, Schneider, and a long standing relationship with tall building contractors who were willing to install the equipment from window cleaning cradles.

One aspect Ballymore was particularly careful about was the lifetime of the LED system and the potential issues should any fittings fail in a few years time. On a 50 storey building this was a major issue. As a result they wanted not only a ten year warranty package but proof that if any fittings were damaged in the following years, then the manufacturer must not only replace the fittings but with ones with the same output. Semperlux presented an insurance indemnity package that met these demands. ISO 9001 and long standing quality assurance compliance in electronics gave Ballymore the confidence required on such a scheme.

It was also apparent from early design meetings that detail was everything to the architects, SOM. Integration into the facade was designed in at a very early stage; the main vertical elements were to fit into a concrete recess 100mm wide and no greater than 140mm deep. The interface between fitting and the building was carefully planned. All fixings were pre-cast. Tolerances of as little as plus or minus 1mm were stipulated! The vertical and horizontal lines of the lantern top were much more complex; corners and junctions needed careful consideration to ensure they diffused correctly. Cabling was designed into the building as SOM would not allow any visible trunking.

Co-ordination with the cladding specialists, Schneider, enabled cable trunking to be completely built into the cladding structure. Constant fine tuning of such elements meant everything could be pre-installed including the wiring looms. Samples were tested on the shell of the building during construction to satisfy SOM’s desire not to see any visual ‘breaks’ in the system.


Maurice Brill Lighting Design called upon Artistic Licence to provide the control solution for the permanent lighting installation and for the Opening Night ceremony.

Artistic Licence’s award winning Colour-Tramp system was specified to control the LEDs because of its ability to map both buildings geographically on a control screen. This then enabled the lighting designer to literally paint coloured light across the building and to render videos of the area to be lit.

Colour-Tramp was designed specifically to handle the complexity of two and three dimensional lighting arrays and combines the concept of lighting control with a graphic editor. It also provides a full implementation of Remote Device Management (RDM) which allows Colour-Tramp to communicate with the lighting fixtures.
Colour-Tramp operates by outputting Art-Net, the public domain protocol developed by Artistic Licence which is now supported by over 100 manufacturers worldwide. Pan Peninsula’s two towers are then linked via fibre optic cables which are used to distribute the Art-Net Ethernet signals between the two.
All the LED dimmers in the installation operate on DMX512 so, in its first outing, Artistic Licence’s newest product, Art-Lynx, was used in both buildings to convert the Art-Net signals to DMX512, ensuring seamless and precise control between Colour-Tramp and the LEDs.
Mounted in a DIN Rail housing, Art-Lynx is designed to work with other Artistic Licence DIN Rail products and is the perfect solution to integrate DMX equipment into large scale or permanent systems.

“In designing this product we wanted to keep installation engineers in mind, in addition to the functionality of the product itself,” explains Artistic Licence Technical Director, Simon Hobday.  “Since they generally understand Cat 5 cable better than DMX, it was a natural progression to fit an Art-Net Node into a box to create a DIN Rail unit. It is now possible to integrate a whole host of our DMX DIN Rail products to, for example, control relays, LEDs, and the like - alongside standard electrical DIN Rail installations.”

Artistic Licence was also called upon to devise the lighting control for the grand Opening Night when VIPs were invited to view the Pan Peninsula buildings from the upper floors of the Cross Harbour hotel, another Ballymore Properties building situated across the water from the Pan Peninsula at Millwall.

Part of London’s Olympic legacy, the official opening of this signature building was hosted by Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, Sebastian Coe.

The lighting was synchronised to a live orchestra playing in the Cross Harbour’s roof-top VIP lounge - which presented a number of interesting technical challenges for Artistic Licence.  The solution was to use multiple Artistic Licence Colour-Tramp systems which were synchronised over high-powered radio links between the buildings.

In addition to the asymmetric feature lighting, the show also featured a count down to the Olympics on the side of Tower 1, which was composed of over 2000 pixels of Artistic Licence Pixi-Flex.

Pixi-Flex is an LED colour mixer aimed at pixilated animation and video applications. The pixels are moulded onto the combined power and data cable and can be simply installed, in any configuration required, using either the rear mounting screw or by push fit. Each pixel is then individually controlled and offers in excess of 16 million colours.

“This is exactly the kind of challenge we relish,” says Artistic Licence Managing Director, Wayne Howell.  “Our company is based on developing solutions for new technology and we have been able to supply a number of tools for this project to build a complete control system which exactly meets the requirements of this very exciting and challenging project.”

So successful was the evening that the following day saw Hobday back on site at the customer’s request, programming a series of sequences for everyday use with further proposals for celebratory seasonal light shows in the pipeline.



Lighting Suppliers:
Facade and control: INSTA, Semperlux, Artistic Licence
Landscape: Leccor, we-ef, Mike Stoane, Public Screen, iGuzzini
Interior: INSTA, DAL, Neolec, Light Grafix, Lucent, Delta Light, Kreon


Pan Peninsula
The 50 story building features 2,280 metres of linear, colour changing LED lines of light developed by INSTA UK and Semperlux GmbH Pics: Tom Brill
Related Articles


Follow us on…

Follow Mondo Arc Magazine on Twitter Follow Mondo Arc Magazine on Facebook Follow Mondo Arc Magazine on Linked In

mondo arc india

darc awards DWLF IALD PLDC LRO