• Wadham College Library, Oxford

    Wadham College is one of the largest in Oxford, centrally located in the city. Wadham College Library ‘WCL’ is an extensive study space, laid out over three floors and is open to College members 24 hours a day, all year round. Darke & Taylor’s in-house lighting design team was engaged to upgrade the existing lighting to LED to save money and bring everything into line with Health & Safety requirements.

    Wadham College Library, Oxford

Challenges

Library in use 24 hours a day: Unlike many buildings which have defined opening hours or which shut at weekends, the library was in constant usage, closure was not an option.

Delicate books: The Persian Studies Section is a world-famous collection of 4,500 books on Persian history, literature, philosophy, theology and science. Owing to its age and rarity, this section required specialist lighting.

All or nothing: Under the old system, owing to the lack of zonal controls, all of the lights were on full brightness all of the time, regardless of the required usage.

Architectural concerns: the library was built in 1970s with brushed concrete walls and a series of half-levels to create an open plan feel. The College wished to preserve the building’s integrity with undisturbed sight lines.

Solutions

Rigorous planning: A Pre-Start Meeting (one month beforehand) highlighted potential issues, whilst a Survey Meeting (one week before) agreed a Schedule of Works to ensure that users were not disturbed.

Specialist lighting: D&T used its extensive experience of working alongside the University in lighting rare and delicate exhibits.

Zonal design: D&T consulted at length with the different users to define the lighting zones and requisite lux levels; e.g. lighting for the online area differed from the study area, with dimming controls also added.

Sympathetic fittings: D&T always ensure that any fittings are sympathetic to the building’s age and design, hiding any unsightly ducting or cabling.

“The Persian Studies Section is a world-famous collection of 4,500 books on Persian history, literature, philosophy, theology and science. Owing to its age and rarity, this section required specialist lighting.”

Technical overview

Darke and Taylor were asked to refurbish the lighting within an Oxford College Library, with the client wanting to take advantage of the obvious benefits of an LED lighting solution. Along with the lighting replacement, we were asked to change the controls from conventional switches to a sensor control solution without being too invasive to the building’s fabric and environment, as the library was to remain open and fully functioning throughout the project.

We achieved this by carefully selecting and sourcing suitable LED fittings that were similar to the existing fittings in terms of size and scale and utilised sensors in key positions, so that we did not need to change wiring any more than necessary. This was all managed through a carefully co-ordinated programme in terms of works area and noise so the library could remain open throughout.

Project details

CLIENTWadham College, Oxford
PROJECT DURATION6 weeks

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