Sutton Vane Associates has added drama (and visibility) to the exterior of London’s Geffrye Museum using uplighting to emphasise the architectural rhythm of the building which is housed in a series of Grade II-listed, 18th-century alms houses.

The museum is built around a courtyard and period garden that faces into a main road.  A team led by Mark Sutton Vane it the exterior, courtyard and grounds, and monuments, highlighting the architecture, making the building easier to view from the street, improving the pathway lighting and saving energy. Rather than a conventional wall wash over the front of the building, narrow-beam uplighting has been used to emphasise its architectural rhythm and give it drama. The low wattage metal halide uplights are recessed into flowerbeds to hide the fittings. Similar 35 Watt downlights that illuminate the pathways without glare are hidden in the building’s ornate eves.

Lighting keeps scheme within tight budget

Compact 20 Watt wide metal halide floods light the herb garden.  Recessed uplights illuminate trees and banners. The museum’s central pavilion, a chapel with a portico, has a clock tower which is now lit from within with a 20 Watt metal halide beam to give it greater presence.

To help keep the project’s cost down and reduce waste the original underground wiring system was retained but extended. Controls allow the façade and paths to be lit separately, for example when the museum is shut. An astronomical time clock is also used. The controls are programmed but can be adjusted by the client. Mains halogen floodlights can be activated instantly for security.