07 Mar 2016

Illuminating a stunning 15th century Hampshire barn


Brilliant Lighting was recently tasked with illuminating a stunning Grade II listed, 15th century Hampshire barn, as part of a major conversion project. The restoration included the addition of a sympathetic new build, constructed in traditional Hampshire flint and a contemporary glazed link.


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Brilliant Lighting was involved at a very early stage of the two-year project, as the owners were very keen that the lighting be sympathetically integrated into the build with minimum disruption to the structure. Getting early buy-in to the design was an important element of getting listed building consent.

In order to minimise disruption to the significant elements of the structure, the homeowners wanted to avoid hanging fittings. They wanted a way of creating a more cosy dining area in the 7m high space and specified a large sail to be suspended over the dining table. They tasked Brilliant with delivering intimate evening dining lighting under the sail. They wanted an easy way to control the lighting and electric curtains and blinds which were essential for the double height windows.

The scale of the building called for high output but not industrial style fittings. High output ground recessed uplights deliver a significant amount of the ambient light for the barn. The custom uplights have a surprising light output for their size and feature recessed and tilted optics, honeycomb louvres and filters, all of which reduce direct glare making the fittings easy to live with in a residential environment. The LED light engine was chosen to bring out the warmth and texture of the interior of the barn.

Where there are beam mounted lights, they are fixed to the beams using custom-made brackets which reduce or eliminate the need to drill into the beams which give the barn its special significance. The brackets for the kitchen track lights are clamped to, rather than drilled, into the beams in the kitchen. The area over the dining table features high output fittings which shine down onto the sail to give a warm glow for evening dining.

Both the ultra-quiet curtains & blinds and the lighting are controlled by a Lutron HomeWorks QS system. Brilliant Lighting chose to use the DALI to dim the lighting; DALI is a dimming protocol more commonly found in commercial environments but ideally suited to a large, listed building like this as it reduces the physical amount of cabling while allowing flexibility in how lights are grouped in the future without having to rerun or add cables.

Lighting zones

The problem-free installation is a testament to the organisation and planning of the homeowners. Probably the most nerve-wracking element of the install from Brilliant Lighting’s point of view was how the sail was going to work. The company had tested the sail with a mockup in the early planning stages and could model the output and performance of specific light fittings in software but that was only sufficient to indicate how the solution was going to work. In practice, the fittings and sail combine exactly as planned with a soft, flattering light filtering through the sail onto the table below.

The need to minimise the impact on the structure played a major role in shaping the design. The floor recessed lights fill the space while leaving the beams relatively visually clear. Bat galleries at each end of the barn shaped the internal layout of the mezzanine areas and how they were lit.

The barn is glorious and the homeowners are delighted with the results. The specific LED light engine chosen gives a rich warm light that brings the structure and texture of the barn to life. The dining area is an evening haven and the lighting control system makes the whole space easy to zone with light with simple keypads and the homeowners’ own iPads.

The scheme is 100% LED based and the lighting control delivers energy efficiency benefits in three different ways. Electric dimming has an almost linear relationship with how much energy is used. Lighting control also makes it easier only to light the areas you want to light. Putting the large electric curtains and blinds on the same easy-to-use system makes it more likely that they are drawn and opened as needed, making the most of natural daylight and adding additional insulation when drawn in the evening.

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