The redeveloped Francis Holland School provides additional fit-for-purpose academic spaces within the constrained Sloane Square site and includes a new Centre for Creative Learning. The design unlocks a dark corner of the school’s unique conservation area setting by eking out a partly subterranean space to house a library pavilion and rooftop garden.

From the project inception, the lighting design had to be cleverly conceived to provide both decorative and functional illumination. This was guided by budget restrictions as well as the compact nature of the space itself.

The lighting solution follows and complements a combination of organic forms and sharp geometric elements introduced by the architecture. Ceiling mounted linear fittings seamlessly integrated within the feature timber slats, radiate out from circular roof lights, resembling rays of sunshine. While creating a visual outline of a child’s drawing of the Sun, and adding a playful visual element to the School Library, this approach also allowed us to balance the contrast levels between intermittent pools of daylight, and artificial light. Although in a seemingly randomised pattern, the ‘rays’ of sun are focused above the desks to provide ample illumination for reading.

To allow for easy and comfortable browsing through the books displayed on bookshelves, discreet suspended spotlights were introduced around the perimeter. We used wall-wash optics, to make sure that the shelves are highlighted, without causing any glare to the students. Forming a bright perimeter largely contributed to the whole space feeling bright and airy, despite being partly underground.

Finally, linear fittings concealed around the perimeter of the timber ceiling, between the façade mullions, also serve multiple functions. Observed from the Library interior, a soft perimeter glow brings out the natural warmth of the timber, while subtly illuminating the perimeter circulation and accenting the gentle curve of the ceiling. If observed from the outside, same fittings provide both façade and ambient illumination for the surrounding landscape, creating a lovely crown glow.

What we have created as a result is a simple, yet flexible space, used for both work and play.

The rooftop garden is lit with festoons reimagining a fairy-tale garden inspired from the library’s children’s book collection.

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