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Heathrow Airport, Terminal 2, London, UK

Issue 79 June/July 2014 : Architecture : Transport

Concept & Lead Architect: LUIS VIDAL & ARCHITECTS Lighting Design: STUDIOFRACTAL

In a mondo*arc exclusive, we take a look at studioFRACTAL’s dynamic lighting scheme in Heathrow’s new Queens Terminal.

PHOTOS: James Newton

Opened on June 4th, Heathrow’s new £2.5 billion Terminal 2 / the Queens Terminal, is home to 22 Star Alliance airlines and will accommodate 20 million passengers a year. Six years in the making, the new state-of-the art terminal will offer an exemplary quality of environment for passengers, airlines and retailers and means Heathrow, along with the award winning Terminal 5, will now boast two world class terminals.

The new Terminal 2 is characterised by a bold, undulating roof that emphasises the main parts of the passenger journey; Check-in; Security and Lounge / Boarding. The north facing orientation and continuous rooflights ensure a consistent level of high quality natural light throughout all interiors – and the clerestory roof design provides surprisingly generous sky views throughout.

Following a masterplan and outline concepts by Foster & Partners, Luis Vidal + Architects (LVA) was appointed by Heathrow as the Concept and Lead architects, collaborating with Pascall & Watson as fitout Architects and Aedas for the multi-story carpark and central court which houses Europe’s largest permanent sculpture by artist Richard Wilson.

With light being a key ingredient in the overall terminal design, the architects planned an integrated roof lighting system to complement and enhance the generous natural light. studioFRACTAL was appointed as the lighting experts tasked with delivering consistently high quality lighting environments throughout all public areas of the terminal. This appointment followed studioFRACTAL’s success at transforming Heathrow’s Terminal 4 as well as a long history of other transport lighting projects.

With construction work already starting on site, studioFRACTAL needed to work on both a strategic level and detailed design at the same time. A detailed Lighting Strategy was created, linking the original Architectural concepts with various different work packages and design teams. Functional and aesthetic lighting was co-ordinated with materials and finishes palettes; signage and wayfinding; retail zones and Terminal operations. A cross linked schedule of lighting equipment and associated lighting related details was created to simplify procurement and construction – and to ensure continuity of lighting through all areas.

studioFRACTAL worked closely with LVA to test and verify the natural and artificial lighting concepts; revisiting the initial design proposals and developing a Lighting Strategy that complemented Heathrow’s original brief. Developing further the ground breaking coloured lighting strategy completed on Heathrow Terminal 4, studioFRACTAL developed a lighting strategy that linked the roof lighting to external sky conditions.

Controlled via automatic timeclocks and photocells, the RGB LED roof lighting will subtly change colour during terminal opening hours to provide a subtle but reassuring link to the outside world. Operational only when external daylight conditions at dawn and dusk fall low enough, the terminal roof is transformed into rolling waves of soft colour, creating a unique backdrop for the entire departures level.

Designed to provide a back illuminated effect within the roof voids, the roof lighting reduces contrast from daylight and also provides a night-time roof lighting effect that emphasised the undulating roof profile. The combined effects from natural and artificial lighting creates a uniquely memorable airport terminal experience. The lighting equipment and associated bracket and diffuser assembly had to be positioned within the roof void directly under the rooflights – but also had to be concealed such that only the overall lighting effect was visible. All elements needed to provide sufficient adjustability to accommodate the undulating curvature of the roof – but also provided access for maintenance and removal if required. Given the undulating roof geometry, the roof lighting also had to be aimed to suit each roof bay. studioFRACTAL created a series of bespoke, adjustable mounting brackets and diffuser assemblies that would carry the RGB lighting systems within the roof voids – but also allow the fittings to be pulled up out of the roof void for maintenance. A number of design options were tested in the full size roof bay constructed off site – and the final design required precision manufacture, assembly and installation of some 1,856 bespoke sliding brackets and associated ‘shelf’ diffusers. studioFRACTAL created a bespoke control programme to operate the roof lighting – and by significantly under-running the LED lighting components a life span in excess of 30 years is expected.

With Pascall & Watson, studioFRACTAL reviewed the initial lighting proposals across the entire terminal interior. A lighting strategy was created that complemented the roof feature, delivering consistency in appearance to all the internal building elements and ensuring the most efficient installation was co-ordinated with a wide variety of architectural, structural and associated building services. All designs were tested and measured against Heathrow’s sustainability requirements to maximise energy reduction and long term reliability.

The relationship between lighting and the materials palette was carefully mapped throughout the terminal – and construction quality lighting details were produced for the entire lighting installation to ensure consistency in installation and lighting effects. Throughout the terminal interiors, specially selected lighting was utilised to support intuitive passenger wayfinding - as can be seen in the stunning Baggage Reclaim Hall.

studioFRACTAL also worked with The Design Solution to create a passenger focused central feature within the Departures Lounge (scheduled for installation later this year), incorporating a unique art piece by Benedict Radcliffe.

With Aedas, studioFRACTAL developed the lighting for the multi story car parks and central covered court – home to the spectacular Slipstream sculpture by renowned artist Richard Wilson. Although delivered through a separate design and construction contract, studioFRACTAL was able to design and co-ordinate the carpark and central court lighting as part of the overall Terminal 2 lighting strategy allowing arriving and departing passengers and staff to experience a consistent terminal environment. The covered court is a major terminal feature, greeting departing and arriving passengers with a jaw dropping space – within which, and hanging impossibly within the space, is Europe’s largest permanent sculpture. Longer than an A380 plane and constructed from riveted aluminium on a wooden frame, Slipstream, as described by the artist, is “a metaphor for travel. It’s about velocity, acceleration and deceleration, which follow it at every undulation of its form.”

Working with Richard Wilson, studioFRACTAL designed small amounts of light to be concentrated on the more ‘active’ areas of the sculpture, enhancing the sinuous motion and materiality of the piece. By day, the undulating rooflights above bathe the sculpture in strong daylight, conveying speed, strength and solidity. As night falls, the subtly changing roof colours create a truly atmospheric setting, complementing the sinuous rolling forms and lending the sculpture a softer, more graceful appearance.

The covered court area presented a major lighting challenge for studioFRACTAL. Given the importance of the sculptural centrepiece, looking up into overhead lighting would have been a distraction. Instead, the lighting design team devised an LED lighting system built into the balustrade supports, incorporating varying optics to satisfy a variety of lighting requirements under normal and emergency lighting conditions.

Working with electrical contractors Crown House, studioFRACTAL created a detailed lighting equipment schedule for all terminal areas. A wide range of lighting samples were viewed and tested to meet a strict quality and efficacy agenda from suppliers including Glamox; Architainment (EcoSense, LED Linear, Philips Color Kinetics); Sill Lighting; Kemps Lighting; iGuzzini; Mike Stoane Lighting; Selux and WE-EF. studioFRACTAL worked closely with all manufacturers to reduce the range of products used, improve optical performance and efficacies and develop long-term maintenance support.

With sustainability as a guiding principle of its design and construction, The Queens Terminal will be one of the world’s most efficient air travel facilities. It will produce 40% less carbon dioxide emissions; achieved through extensive natural lighting, LED technology, and energy generation technology including photovoltaic cells and a new biomass fuel Energy Centre. Hosting a wide range of advanced, innovative technologies and an intelligent, architecturally integrated lighting solution that puts passenger comfort at its core, the Queens Terminal is a fitting monument to architectural light.

Barry Weekes, Heathrow’s Head of Design Development, said, “The Queens Terminal - has been designed with the passenger at its heart and the design of the lighting has been an integral part in the delivery of a truly world class passenger experience. Heathrow is passionate around the contribution specialist lighting design can make to our terminals and studioFRACTAL has once again developed for us an innovative and sustainable lighting solution that has helped Terminal 2 deliver amazing spaces for our passengers, airlines, retailers and staff to enjoy.”


Terminal 2, Heathrow Airport, London, UK
Client: Heathrow Airport
Client Advisor: Speirs + Major
Lighting Design: studioFRACTAL

Terminal 2A / Queens Terminal
Masterplan Architect: Foster & Partners
Concept & Lead Architect: Luis Vidal & Architects
Fitout Architect: Pascall & Watson
MEP Engineer (inc daylight planning & back of house lighting): Hoare Lea

MSCP Carpark & Covered Court
Lead Architect: AEDAS
MEP Engineer: Buro Happold
‘Slipstream’ Artist: Richard Wilson


Main Terminal
Sill 021 metal halide high level projectors to main departures
LED Linear VARIOLED & Phobos low level LED skirt lighting details to feature elements (supplied by Architainment)
Philips Color Kinetics ColorGraze lighting to fabric soffit and other coloured accents (supplied by Architainment)
iGuzzini iN30 low level lighting to internal stairs and task lighting
Glamox C50 range compact fluorescent and metal halide downlights for general ambient
Mike Stoane Lighting FXD/CP downlights and custom desk mounted task light
Kemps K-Light Master 55 and K-Light Profile LED wallwash

MSCP & Central Court
iGuzzini T2 Projector LED column mounted projectors to passenger drop off area
WE-EF Rail 66 with metal halide projectors for artwork
Selux M125 linear wall wash lighting
Glamox surface mounted compact fluorescent and metal halide downlights for general ambient
Ecosense Linear HP EXT Wallwash low level LED lighting to base of granite seating (supplied by Architainment)
Kemps K-Light Wayfinder LED balustrade lighting to external central court


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