How outdoor architectural lighting transforms public spaces

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Kings Cross 2

The right outdoor architectural lighting can transform a space. It enables us to use public spaces at night and can turn a dark and dingy thoroughfare into a brightly lit hub of activity.


Lighting provides safe, appealing places to congregate


In busy cities, the need for open, public space continues beyond daylight hours. And outdoor architectural lighting makes these spaces functional at night, for everyone. But more than that, well-designed lighting schemes create safe, welcoming areas to pause, rest and congregate.


Going beyond practicality


The best schemes are creative, subtle and elevate the structures surrounding them. They go beyond practicality and offer something visually stimulating too. There are all sorts of ingenious ways to light outside spaces that involve more than street lamps and flood lights. Some of these include:

• Embedded spotlights
• In-ground linear LED fixtures
• Accent lighting on structures, buildings and signage
• Illuminated seating
• Bespoke light installations


In our experience, the most accomplished outdoor architectural lighting schemes feature a range of fixtures such as these. These designs ensure a space is clear and navigable, first and foremost, but they also create an eye-catching spectacle in themselves.


Take a look at these two examples to see exactly what we mean…

Kings Cross

Example 1: Kings Cross Square (a public space)


Lighting design studio, StudioFRACTAL, created this design for the square adjoining Kings Cross Station. Designed to be durable and energy efficient, the lighting scheme was one of the first large scale public realm developments in the UK to use only LED technology.


A range of LED fixtures were used at different levels. Pole mounted LEDs light the square from above, while linear under-seat fixtures cascade light across the pavement. There are also spotlights illuminating the various structures within the square, including the station’s iconic tower.

Kings Cross 1


Kemps provided luminaires for the newly-improved, low-energy LED lighting for the famous clock at the top of the building's façade.


The space has been sharply executed and is still admirable over 4 years on. The square is a vibrant arena of light and energy, providing the perfect entranceway to one of London’s busiest stations.



Example 2: Westquay Shopping Centre (a commercial space)


Kemps was specified by lighting design firm, George Sexton Associates (GSA), to provide a range of outdoor architectural lighting for Westquay Shopping Centre in Southampton. In addition to lighting for the building’s façade, bespoke elements were required for the centre’s outdoor seating area.


We helped GSA to create 34 bespoke illuminated trunk-style seats. These seats have been installed alongside regular outdoor chairs, benches and spot lighting to create a brightly-lit space for customers to sit and relax.



What could have been a simple pathway is now an inviting garden, suitable for use during the day and evenings. This communal area not only lifts the overall appearance of the shopping centre, but it also encourages customers to stay longer by providing places to sit and enjoy their surroundings.


These projects are brilliant examples of the real impact of outdoor architectural lighting. The lighting installed has made these areas safe to navigate, certainly. But it’s also turned them into spaces to meet, rest and socialise, increasing their value to end users who visit and pass through each day.


Do you have an architectural lighting challenge you’d like to share with us? Get in touch to discuss your requirements or get a quote. 

Take a look at our recent case studies here.

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