Period Buildings and Electronic Lighting

Treating our historic buildings with integrity is important when it comes to relighting. Lighting is one of the elements of a listed building where upgrading is permitted. Previously with fluorescent this lead to an unhappy compromise but ironically, the age of electronics means we can take lighting back to point sources. And LED’s are the perfect medium for this. Tunability and adjustability of light are important aspects as well as the potential for better colour rendering. These take us back to the natural light sources many of these buildings would have been designed for but avoiding any pastiche.

McEwan Hall
University of Edinburgh


Spectral brand uses heavy gauge aluminium profiles that can be bent and formed to create products that will stand the test of time. These products are engineered to last and not deform under any thermal or structural conditions. They also act as good thermal dissipators for heat sources which means high output point sources can be used. This also means we can improve the efficiencies too. We can also incorporate good modern materials too if they have either longevity or serviceability. The example shown here is from 33 Grosvenor in London which is a period building renovated for modern use.

33 Grovesnor Street


Older buildings face many challenges when it comes to integration of modern wiring and technology. It also must be intuitive to use, due to the variety of users. In may instances like this we like the use of wireless technology which causes the least disruption. Here at St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol, a very simple wireless remote is used to do basic on/off and dimming but is located on the wall as an ordinary light switch.

St Mary Redcliffe


All our chandelier products are bespoke and made by hand. The base structure is simple and can be made to any dimension. Light sources and modules can then be added to suit the lighting design. The structures are stable enough not to deform and can be designed take additional equipment such as PA speakers if needed. An example of this was at St Matthews Church in Cambridge where the lighting was designed partly to accentuate the shape of the building while carrying other services.

St Matthews Church


Often, we are involved in complete bespoke solutions where fresh thinking is needed to integrate a lighting solution into the building structure. At Aberdeen Art Gallery a modern/classical solution was required to bring light into the space which was sympathetic to the skylight and form of the period building. The unit was also required to integrate projectors and AV equipment.

Aberdeen Art Gallery


Sometimes the addition of modern but classical forms of lighting can totally transform a space. Here at St Augustin Church in Coburg, the lights make a dramatic impact in the space while providing light that conveys open space.


Playing with colour temperature and direction of light is a powerful way to create different ambiances and themes for the multiple uses of historic public spaces. This can be done with colour or tunable white light. The effects of direct and indirect lighting can also change the mood of an environment depending on whether you wish to highlight a task or environment. Here at Vasrajanas Retreat in Suffolk, many moods and themes were possible by altering the balance of direct and indirect lighting as well as adjusting the colour temperature. These scenes were embedded into an easy to operate scene controller.

Vajrasana Retreat

Vajrasana Retreat


Larger products delivered by Spectral are usually delivered with extreme care in wooden crates to protect what are often special paint finishes. The other important aspect is that products are delivered fully assembled and connected so that the installer just needs to make a mains connection to the luminaires.

Allowances are also made for the access into an older building and this is part of the design proposal and often when a dedicated site survey is essential. Sometimes the luminaire needs to be delivered in easy to assemble sections so in cases like this, a full assembly/disassembly is performed as a pre-check in our factory. In this case at McEwan Hall in Edinburgh. A large volume of rings was supplied to light all the passageways and certain stall areas. In this instance all products were supplied fully assembled and with different fixings to suit the various areas. This made installation fast and safe. RIDI Groups ability to offer onsite support for such projects is often considered as invaluable for most our clients.


A key driver for refurbishment is often energy reduction. However whole lifetime costs are important credentials too so longevity and ability for the product to be upgraded and refurbished for years to come should be equally important. Many of Spectral’s chandeliers have structures that are designed to last for several decades. Therefore, in such instances we ensure that all electronic parts can easily be replaced, upgraded or refurbished in the future.

Here at Christchurch Down End in Bristol, a refurbishment was undertaken to not just reduce energy but to also make the environment more open and appealing. This involved a scheme that was cohesive with perimeter windows and the opening up of daylight.

Christ Church
Downend, Bristol


Some of today’s landmark projects are clearly designed to be tomorrows future heritage projects. For such applications it is important that elements such as lighting are not only designed to last and remain part of the building fabric but also be able to be refurbished and futureproofed as much as is possible. Cambridge Central Mosque is a classic case in point. Some of the product supplied are embedded into the skylights and much attention is paid to ensure maintainability as well as a precision fit. Good quality materials used will ensure longevity.

Cambridge Central Mosque

Find out More

RIDI Group offer a RIBA accredited CPD, ‘How can we preserve our heritage with the right light?’, that can be delivered in your practice or via Webinar.

Contact us to book now.

Request a CPD




CoburgSt. Augustin Parish Church in Coburg was designed in the Neogothic style between 1855 and 1860 in accordance ...
St Matthews Church, Cambridge

St Matthews Church, Cambridge

Built in 1866 and designed by Richard Rowe, one-time understudy to George Gilbert Scott in the 1850s in his work at Ely Cathedral.
St Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol

St Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol

St. Mary Redcliffe is an Anglican parish church located in Bristol Temple Meads. The church building was ...
Christ Church Downend

Christ Church Downend

Bristol, UKChrist Church Downend was constructed in 1836 and is a Grade II listed church. As part of the ...

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