The Principal London stands prominently on the eastern side of Russell Square in Bloomsbury. A landmark Grade II listed building designed by Charles Fitzroy-Doll that originally opened in 1898.

As the flagship Principal Hotel, The Principal London required a lighting scheme that matched its hierarchy within the hotel chain, highlighted its grandeur and immaculate architectural detailing whilst respecting its illustrious history. The large striking, intimidating terracotta facades and intricate architectural features required a restrained approach to the design. Upon a building with such extensive opportunity, the temptation to light everything should be avoided!

Our first step was to understand how the building would be seen from Russell Square. Viewing angles were limited to the centre of Russell Square where large trees partially obstructed the hotel or from oblique angles from street level. We therefore sought to simplify our approach to avoid complicating and merging lighting effects when viewed from these angles.

To achieve this, we repeated lighting effects at high-level, collectively creating linear compositions of effects across each level, framing and defining each facade and outlining the architectural form of the building.

The scheme emphasises the hotels dominance within Russell Square whilst providing smaller areas of interest at street level for arriving guests and passers-by.

The key to the success of the scheme was balancing the intensity of each lighting effect. Confidence in the application of large quantities of low-output fittings to achieve the collective overall effect was crucial to the design and provided drama and contrast.

Challenging lighting tests were carried out on key features of the façade amongst an elaborate maze of scaffolding.

Our focus initially was colour temperature. The concern was that the terracotta exterior would produce a very warm lighting effect but, tests showed 2700°K was perfect for all locations.

To outline the building, large scale features such as the tall columns at ground level were up-lit by ACDC 10° Plaza 10 fittings, ground floor window reveals uplit by LightGraphix 12° LD51 uplights, the continuous arched balconies across the first floor were up-lit by LightGraphix 10° LD10238, the tall towers flanking each corner of the building were collectively illuminated by small Light Graphix 12° LD51 to each window reveal, the high-level turquoise turrets washed by ACDC 16° Plaza 20 floodlights and domes to corners and front facade by Ecosense TROV L50 9° x 59° linear grazers.

At low level we focused on smaller features, from uplighting the decorative arched entrance with recessed LightGraphix 10° LD151 uplighters, uplighting large columns flanking the main entrance from below ground level with acdc 10° Plaza 10 fittings. Shields and emblems were spot lit with LightGraphix 10° LD10238 spotlights. The four British queens guarding the entrance to the hotel were softly down-lit by LightGraphix 10° LD10238 spotlights.

All light fittings are surface mounted to limit damage to the terracotta exterior with cabling hidden out of sight within the architectural nooks and crannies.

A simple Mode Lighting control system activates all lighting through an astronomical time clock.

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