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Marks & Spencer, Westfield White City, England

Issue 47 Feb / Mar 2009 : Retail : Store

Lighting Design: LAPD

LAPD has designed a remarkable scheme at the new Marks & Spencer in Westfield White City involving a heliostat system that tracks the sun.

The Marks & Spencer store anchors the Westfield London scheme - one of the biggest European retail developments this decade. The 103,000 sq ft store offers customers an unrivalled M&S shopping experience and the lighting scheme includes a number of design features in line with Plan A, M&S’ ‘eco’ plan, most notably a Heliostat system in the central atrium.

Within the shopping mall coloured light creates interest to both the ground and first floor facades. On entering the store, impact is provided by continuous fluorescent lines of light passing unbroken through gaps in the central rafts designed to draw the customer into the space. LAPD influenced the ceiling configuration throughout the ground and first floors. Horizontal ceiling rafts lead off each side of the entrance raft.

These increase in depth towards the central atrium creating a sense of approach to the store centre. Horizontal lines of light fittings accentuate the length of these rafts and the breadth of the store. The ceiling height rises in the area surrounding the atrium and the accent lighting in this zone is increased.

Around the perimeter fluorescent luminaires and spotlights are mounted to suspended busbars. This creates a vibrant lit effect, while linear cove uplighting above the wall displays increases the customer’s perception of the brightness of the space.

The 2.5m2 Heliostat (designed and manufactured by Colt International) and secondary mirror system are located on the roof. This mirror tracks the sun throughout the year and reflects sunlight onto nine secondary mirrors (each measuring 1170mm x 850mm) mounted on a frame on the opposite side of the atrium. Five of the secondary mirrors have 36 smaller mirrors all set at different angles - these direct dappled light on to the ground floor twenty metres below.

The design of the Heliostat evolved during the project. Originally flat adjustable secondary mirrors were considered to create intense bright rectangles of light that would strike focal areas or graze vertical surfaces. The ability to create more subtle, dappled light with smaller rectangular mirrors bonded to each secondary mirror was then investigated. Using small mirrors produced flecks of light at 20m away which when set at different angles created the effect of dappled light through trees.

This approach was chosen and the light was designed to fall onto areas of the atrium floor without product displays. The numerous escalators created a challenge in threading the beams of sunlight through to the desired areas. Full scale prototype mirrors were made to determine the required angles and size of the dappling mirrors. This was in addition to the use of 3D CAD models to ensure the correct location of the secondary mirror structure.

As well as dappled light there was a desire to create further interest in the space. Four mirrors on the secondary mirror structure are flat and are angled to strike prismatic reflectors or ‘Angels’ mounted to the escalators. Designed by LAPD and manufactured by Profile Lighting Services, these reflect and refract sunlight creating rainbow effects and white light within the atrium that shimmers with the motion of the escalators onto the walls, escalator sides, and floor.


The money area is lit by square linear fluorescent pendants that are arranged to provide a lead in to the space. The outermost pendant protrudes into the main sales area providing a prominent visual identity to the space.

Compact fluorescent luminaires within the café provide ambient lighting while accent lighting is supplied by metal halide adjustable spots. These have a deep recessing bezel to minimize glare. Pendants identify the main seating area and behind this a ‘daylight wall’ of opal glass is lit according to the time of day. Along the front wall of the café tiltable Artemide table lamps invite customers to interact with the environment.

The foodhall is located downstairs. A high open ceiling in the central area is surrounded by plasterboard ceiling perimeter areas. Plasterboard rafts are suspended between the gondolas with a single line of recessed linear fluorescent and accent lighting in each aisle. A suspended extruded linear fluorescent element with integral lighting track around the perimeter of the open ceiling lights the downstand of the bulkhead and provides accent lighting to gondola ends.

The Deli on the ground floor features Conciluce rectangular pendants that define the table top space. Compact fluorescents give an ambient lighting level while 35W CDM-T metal halide provide visual interest to the counter tops.

White compact fluorescent luminaires create a warm colour temperature in the changing rooms located on each floor. The fittings have a white bezel and reflector that creates the impression of a lit circle on the ceiling. Luminaires above the cubicles feature a frosted glass to provide a balance between shadowing and vertical illumination. Lighting behind the mirrors adds to the level of vertical illumination to the full height of the customer.

With its huge scale and dramatic internal design, Westfield London is one of the most exciting retail developments of recent years and the lighting design of the Marks and Spencer store reflects this ambition. It is a stylish, energy efficient scheme that enables customers to enjoy M&S’s extensive product range in a comfortable, interesting environment.


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