The beautifully ornate buildings of the Old Royal Naval College have served a variety of purposes in their lifetime. Designed by the acclaimed architect, Sir Christopher Wren, the buildings were originally constructed as the Greenwich Hospital, a home for disabled sailors. When the hospital closed in 1869, the site then became the Royal Navy’s Staff College, which provided advanced training for naval officers until 1998.

The former college is now the heart of Maritime Greenwich, recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in common with The Queen’s House, National Maritime Museum, Royal Observatory, the Royal Park and the buildings which surround it.

The most iconic features of the Old Royal Naval College are the two domes that sit above the chapel. These notable structures have been immortalised in many works of art, with perhaps the most-famous being the Canaletto painting ‘A View of Greenwich from the River’ with the two domes – known as the ‘Wren’s Domes’ – standing proud.

A review of the lighting was conducted, with a plan to enhance the stunning architecture of the former college and offer new opportunities to introduce dynamic experiences for visitors.

As the Wren domes are the prominent features seen from the river, as well as the from the other bank of the Thames and the nearby Greenwich Park, it was decided to focus on their lighting first. To enhance these structures and breathe new life into them, Light Perceptions, specialist lighting consultants for historic buildings, was commissioned to develop a new lighting scheme. They partnered with Pharos Architectural Controls to provide the lighting scheme’s control, selecting a Pharos Designer TPC & EXT (Touch Panel Controller and Extension) to achieve this. Pharos Cloud is also used for simple and secure remote control and management of the lighting.

The TPC is a sleek touchscreen device that offers a fully integrated user interface and vast design potential. Utilising a single Power over Ethernet (PoE) network connection, the 4.3” touch panel is customisable, and offers excellent capacity with 512 channels of eDMX output. The Pharos Designer EXT is an extension for the TPC. Together these two solutions form a standalone, mains-powered lighting controller with versatile output and show control options.

The control system design was supplied and commissioned by Maria Jenkins of Experience Lighting. As a Pharos dealer, Experience Lighting have an expert knowledge of the market-leading solutions, as well as a comprehensive understanding of the best Pharos controls for each individual project.

Ray Faithful, Head of Facilities at the Old Royal Naval College said: “The capability we now have to illuminate the Wren domes and use this great effect is a wonderful addition to our historic site. The system is easy to use yet incredibly effective; we are all delighted with the results.”


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