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Let there be light

Pam Over reports on an effective way to deal with lack of natural light. 

CKD Galbraith has recently completed the full refurbishment of the first floor of Norfolk House in Birmingham on behalf of a client. 

The floor, which extends to 18,700 sq ft, has windows on all four elevations but suffers from a deep central space with limited light.

The intention was to emulate the very successful refurbishment of the second floor, which we completed in 2014. While this level's configuration mirrors the first floor, we were able to puncture through the slab to the light well above and create a line of six roof lights to transform the office space below. As this solution was not possible on the first floor, the design dilemma was solved by the M&E engineers, ESC, who suggested using Barrisol Lights. 

Barrisol is a stretched flexible ceiling system made with a non-toxic polymer, which is 100% recyclable and strong enough to support masses of 150kg without breaking before returning to its initial form.

The polymer ceiling was stretched between supporting rails at the perimeter using heat. It then shrinks to form a flat ceiling surface once the heat is removed. Sections were illuminated using LED strips installed in a sealed box behind the flexible ceiling, with the spacing and brightness of the strips carefully planned to ensure even lighting that closely matches the colour of daylight, thus giving the effect of a roof light, without the need for an external space above. In terms of maintenance, the LED fittings need to be replaced once every ten years and, as the entire unit is sealed there should be no cleaning or dust issues.

The result is so successful that prospective tenants and agents have tried to look up at the sky before realising it is not actually a window. The client is delighted with the finished effect, which gives the impression of roof lights in an otherwise deep plan office space, vastly improving the look and feel of the floor.