Paul Traynor, practice principal at Light Bureau, talks about their latest collaboration with The Landscape Partnership on Lewisham’s newest public space, Fordham Park

A tree in Fordham Park is lit up in green and blue
A tree in Fordham Park is lit up in green and blue

The London Borough of Lewisham has seen a number of parks improved and remodelled and Fordham Park is the latest.

Situated between New Cross and New Cross Gate stations, the park is a large and popular green space and thoroughfare. There is a community centre in the park and schools on the northern and southern boundaries.

The Landscape Partnership’s concept was to create a play park with active zones and also to improve legibility and interest for park users and commuters. The London Borough of Lewisham wanted an exemplary space and encouraged the design team to push the boundaries for this project.

Light Bureau’s response to the brief was to create light for recreation areas, very much at a human scale, extending the use after dark. To improve legibility and orientation on pathway lighting, illuminated colour coded lantern markers were designed, each primary route identified with a primary colour of red, blue or green.

A major innovation was the design of bespoke lanterns using solid state (LED) sources. These are very efficiently designed, lensed in a way which places light where it is needed and also extremely long life and energy efficient. Based on manufacturer’s claims of 70,000 hours, service life of the diodes should be well in excess of 15 years.

The colour appearance is cool white, unusual for public areas but research carried out by Light Bureau reveals that visual acuity is improved with a combination of good colour rendering sources with cool white temperature based on studies into mesopic vision. Unlike normal discharge sources, solid state lighting is dimmable, so further efficiencies can be made in future as dimming control can be added.

Design-wise, the lanterns and posts are a simple, functional style, based on ventilation pipes present on site. The finish is simple galvanised.

An underpass is included in the scheme, which picks up on the park pipe theme and in addition, includes an art installation by Heather Burrell. Light Bureau’s lighting solution is visually very different from traditional underpass schemes and the way fittings are placed provides excellent vertical and soffit lighting, improving user’s perception and experience. Lamps to the pipe structure are fluorescent; very efficient and with the particular lamp specified, service life is approximately 80,000 hours.

London Borough of Lewisham are very happy with the improvements and have had many positive comments from users. It is hoped that the innovations at Fordham Park will encourage other boroughs and designers to challenge convention more whilst still achieving important objectives of energy and longevity.


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