Re-lighting St Andrew’s United Reformed Church.

A recent project we have been working alongside with Nigel Lewis to re-light St Andrew’s United Reformed Church. Thank you to Nigel for this fantastic write up! 

St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, often referred to as St Andrew’s Frognal, is perched on a hill on the junction of busy Finchley Road and Frognal Lane, Hampstead, London. It is placed so high that from the road it is easy to miss, but this is one of the highest churches in London and can be seen for miles around. Built in 1897 as a Presbyterian church, it was originally set with hanging chandeliers of candles, later gas, later still electric light. It boasts a stunning array of stained glass windows, a robust and deeply set architectural structure and a grand set of steps from the road.

I first knew the church due to the opera company that resides there, Brent Opera. I became resident lighting designer to Brent Opera about ten years ago, and twice a year I lit their productions. The spanner in my designs was always the house-lights, a series of five high bay discharge metal halide lamps, more akin to industrial installations. Not only did they require warm-up time and lack a hot restrike, but at 35mtrs high, required specialised access equipment and an operator to change a lamp. For over a year the church managed on just two working lamps due to the prohibitive cost of changing the lamps. When it came to an interval in a production it was necessary for the audience to wait for the discharge lamps to warm up before safely moving from their seats.

The steep outside steps were unlit and the ageing congregation found it difficult to see the steps in the winter months.

I was approached by the church committee to provide a proposal to carry out a complete re-light of the church. I am a theatre lighting designer, but had carried out a few architectural designs over the years, so I undertook a piece of research to find the best possible lighting solution for the church. The main brief from the church was ‘We need to be able to see’. My main concern was the high colour temperature of the metal halide lighting, and the lack of depth and character of the architectural features this caused. The one piece of research I didn’t need to worry about was the lighting manufacturer, I had used Collingwood products previously and knew this was lighting made to last, and that their expertise would provide me with the information I needed to put a proposal together.

My first proposal was presented to the church committee a year prior to installation, we gathered on a cold winter’s evening in the church and I presented my design, along with an idea of costings. After several months it became apparent that the Synod would need to be involved in these decisions because the church was subject to a grade II listing and we had to be very careful about how we applied new lighting to the fabric of the church, most importantly no cables should be on view.


Collingwood FL200 LED Floodlight

A trial of the scheme was requested by the Synod architect, this involved purchasing two FL200 floods, attaching them to a fly lead and taking them up to 15ft above the pews to view the resulting light. But first I had to find a supplier, I looked at many companies but G&R Electrical/Direct Trade Supplies had very good reviews and this lead me to contacting them. The efficiency of the staff was exactly what I needed, quick replies to emails, friendly, knowledgeable and personable, I could work with this. The trial units arrived in 2 days and was ready to fix up for demonstration purposes.

I had chosen a warm colour temperature for the pews to bring out the natural wood and create a warm glow over the pews. The scheme worked and the architect liked the effect. Being a point-source, we decided to backlight the pews and tested this with a hymn book, there were no shadows and the light was a powerful source, even at 15ft from the floor. The beam angle allowed me to overlap the light to result in a smooth wash.

The scheme got the thumbs up and I arranged a meeting with my electrician, Chris Tomlins of Inglewood Power, we came up with a plan for the install and created a lighting plan. I really wanted the lighting to highlight the architecture of the church, create a welcoming warmth and concentrate the eyes of the congregation on the altar and pulpit areas. I achieved this by dividing the church in to 2 distinct areas, treating them much like a theatre space, the body and the altar. The body of the church is lit in a warm white at 3000K and the altar and pulpit using the same lanterns but at 4000K, this created a distinct difference between the 2 areas. The FL200 is so small and powerful that it was easy to hide them in the rafters, being a dimmable unit this allowed me to install a dimming system to make adjustments to the intensity.

The side aisles had been lit with a mixture of 1000w floods and sodium floods, these were replaced with Collingwood LEDLINE wash-light bars at 3000K, a 45 degree unit that allowed me to focus the light exactly where I wanted it. I was surprised at how small these units are, I’m not sure I had carried out enough research of this unit and was a bit nervous when I saw them. But once installed, the light quality was just what was needed, bright enough for the cover but so slim and small that they hid away nicely.

Collingwood LED Line

Collingwood LED Line

Then I applied a theatre trick, I lit the organ pipes, either side of the altar using a Collingwood UL030 High Output Universal Unit with a blue LED source, this was located about 12 ft away from the pipes, the effect brought in the sides of the church and drew the eyes away from the deep transept. The eyes are drawn towards the centre of the altar and the space becomes more personal and intimate, a difficult task for such a large space.

Collingwood UK030 Blue

Collingwood UL030 Blue

The side walls of the naïve have embedded pillars on them, these were lit with by placing a small LED spot at 4000k with a beam angle of 9 degree. This helped to bring down the ceiling height by creating a canopy effect above the pews. This worked particularly well and helped to highlight the architecture.

The work took around 5 weeks, I was particularly insistent that no cables showed in the public area and Chris did an amazing job, having to use a special drill bit to get through the deep walls, some of which were filled with a hard engineering brick.

The result of the attention to detail, diligence and professionalism of the electrical contractor made my work as designer so much easier as he was able to make decisions in my absence with an excellent understanding of what I had in my vision. There is something to be said for working with the same electrician for more than 10 years!

Chris installed 2 dimmer units set up as master and slave, this is controlled by a touch button pre-set system that allows me to control the intensities in different areas and to create an auditorium house lights system for the operatic performances.

The outside steps were lit by embedding Collingwood WL341 Asymmetric Step Light, this kept the light on the steps and not in the faces of the folk using them. Chris connected them to an LDR sensor and time switch arrangement so they automatically switch on at dusk but don’t run all night

The congregation’s reaction to the finished work was a mixture of delight and not-so-sure about the blue on the organ pipes. We have gone from bright, cold, industrial light with no empathy for the architecture to a warm glow with control over the beam, texture and intensity. That will take a bit of time to get used to.

The entire project has been a huge success in my eyes, but only due to the flexibility, adaptability and professional of the entire team from the manufacturer and supplier to the electrician and his team of riggers. Thank you to them all.

img_20161018_125212 img_20161018_125408 Church Lighting

Nigel Lewis

Lighting Designer

LX Designs Limited


Interview With Feng Shui Masters: Installing Peace & Harmony Into The Home.

Discover Inner Peace & Embrace The Chi, We Talk With Feng Shui Master Mark Sakautzy & Consultant Sophie Watkins.

feng shui image 1

Design By International Feng Shui Academy

You know sometimes when you enter a room and you are met with an unsettling feeling but you can’t quite put your finger on it? Well Feng Shui is kind of the opposite of this experience.

This superstitious and complex form is used to attract positive energy via meticulous calculations, orientation, logistical thinking and product positioning. This intriguing mix of art, design and science has compelled many admirers and retracted a few sceptics, so what better way to divulge in the subject than by inviting two leading consultants and Feng Shui masters to take part in an interview.


Interview With: Alisa Bowen @ Inside Studio Interior Designers, An Artists Touch In The Home.

From Sunny Cyprus To The UK, Alisa Bowen @ Inside Studio Shares Her Interior Design Story.

alisa..There aren’t too many people who would trade in the Cypriot sunshine for a rain soaked UK, but then again not everybody has the desire to uproot and commit to a future career.

Alisa Bowen moved to the UK at 22, her initial idea was to study a degree in Art and Design, with the view to fly back to the East Med island with a well earned certificate under her belt. 

However, whilst studying Fine Art and Design, as well as two years Interior Design, she met her husband at University and they decided to stay put; cementing her place in the UK with the launch Inside Studio (more…)

Interview With: Karolina Barnes @ Karolina Barnes Interior Design, Bringing Comfort, Colour & Practicality To The Home.

Interior Design Isn’t Just For The Wealthy, Karolina Barnes Opens Up Her Eye For Design

karolina barnes profile shotKarolina Barnes is a devoted mum whose early eye for design has opened up the doors for her dream. Her main aim is to supply a quality design service for all walks of life, alienating no-one and attracting those who don’t necessarily have a wad of cash to play with. Karolina enjoys bringing a talented touch to her clients homes, embodying a real understanding of patterns, textures and colours.

Karolina has studied a Diploma in Interiors, worked for the critically acclaimed Design Centre Chelsea Harbour and most recently set up her very own studio. Along this journey she’s discovered her true identity as a designer and continues to master her style by fulfilling design projects on a frequent basis. 

Not only is Karolina helping her clients achieve better aesthetics and practicality in the home but she also provides further services beyond designing interiors. These include assistance for budding designers and DIYers in her KB Design Club, the running of The KB Shop which flaunts the latest soft furnishings and bespoke items created locally in Kent and she also gives 5% of her profits to the Childrens with Cancer charity. Top work.

So lets get stuck in, over to you Karolina. (more…)

Interview With: Christopher Claudio Skierka @ Celeste Interior Design, Adding A Splash Of Colour To The Home.

Celeste Image

 Bringing Light & Colour To The Home With Celeste Interior Design

This week we teamed up with Christopher Claudio Skierka, a creative Interior Designer based in Manchester. His main ethos is to reflect his clients personality in the home; using colour, textures and lighting to help inject a full dose of charisma and individuality, truly making the home their own. 

He takes an interest in the individual’s lifestyle, their character and how they want their home to feel. With this he goes away, wrestles with his thoughts, comes up with a plan and sources the goods before carefully implementing. His mixed origin of Polish and Italian roots give him the best of both worlds, claiming “Polish are well known to be into materials, such as soft furnishings, whereas Italians, well everything is art.” (more…)

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