Jonathan Speirs, Carrie Donahue Bremner, Dave Morris
Speirs Major was invited to re-light Usher Hall in Edinburgh – one of Scotland's historic arts venues. The project was part of a major refurbishment programme, led by architects LDN, to upgrade the building and add a modern extension.
Working closely with the architects, our contribution was to design an integrated approach to light for this important Grade A listed building, carefully blending old and new.
One of the challenges was finding a solution to lighting the modern spiral stairwell that links the original Usher Hall with its modern extension. The cylindrical, concrete walls meant it was almost impossible to introduce light in a way that would appear architecturally integrated.
Therefore, we developed the idea of a contemporary chandelier – a single shaft of light that forms the central axis of the spiral staircase. The suspended light structure has solved multiple issues at once: not only issues of lighting, but also issues of mounting, cable routing and maintenance.
The 13.8m chandelier uses lengths of fluorescent tubes encased within double acrylic cylinders; the inner layer is frosted to soften the light while the outer layer is etched with a ringed pattern that catches the light. Each fluorescent section is separated by shorter sections of frosted glass rings uplit with LEDs to add sparkle and introduce variation along the length. Due to the overall height of the stair, the suspended structure had to be built in six sections to accommodate lamp lengths, cable routing and access for cleaning and maintenance.
We designed the concept for the chandelier and developed it with bespoke manufacturer Mike Stoane Lighting in collaboration with LDN.