Lighting technology is moving on at a speed never seen before. The driving force behind this is primarily the huge leaps being made in LED implementation. As the chips they're dependent on become brighter and brighter and more and more efficient, manufacturers leap to integrate them into their products. This of course brings huge advantages to the end consumer - ever more superior products, greater flexibility, lower energy consumption, lower bills, lower tax burden - the benefits are legion.
There is, of course, a downside. A lot of equipment never makes it to consumers' installations - it just ages too fast, isn't universally popular, or as is most likely, it is simply superseded. This kit languishes in wholesalers' warehouses, development labs, out-of-town lockups - even on retailers shelves - until it is finally binned. It goes without saying that this is a huge, costly, and unnecessary waste.
This thought was not lost on south-of-England lighting design practice Michael Grubb Studio. Together with marketing consultancy the ID Group, they put together Re:LIT - an initiative to find a practical home for all this homeless equipment. Banding together support from some of the biggest names in lighting manufacturing, Re:LIT is already beginning to transform some buildings in desperate need of attention.
Local to the Michael Grubb Studio in Bournemouth, Dorset, is the Grade II-listed Shelley Theatre. The performance space comprises part of the Shelley Manor site - and was once home to local Frankenstein author Mary Shelley's son. Abandoned for years and boarded up, the theatre has come to life again, and the Re:lit project is doing exactly what its name suggests - relighting it.
It will be no mean feat - its what can be generously called shabby chic is in no way set off with the use of linear tungsten halogen floodlights - and the project is keen to avoid the formulaic approach - as they call it the "4 pin spots above a bar, uplight every column and the classic ‘LED strip light under any desk’ syndrome". Never mind design, there's also clearly a huge energy saving to be made, with 4kW currently installed.
The care that you would find behind any project is still foremost - there's just the additional challenge of only being able to design with what is available at the time. Thankfully given the names involved in providing equipment - Architainment (from whom the 2006 vintage LED cove pictured right originates), Commercial Lighting Systems, Ecosense, Xicato, acdc, UFO, RCL, TM Lighting, Mike Stoane Lighting, Precision Lighting, Martin Professional, Lucent, Lumenpulse, Light Projects LED Linear and iGuzzini - the pool of quality kit is only going to grow. When we spoke to the Michael Grubb Studio briefly, they were busy drawing up the electrical installation plans for the Shelley Theatre - transformation really is in progress.
While all this is going on, other mini-projects seem to take Re:LIT's fancy - an apparently defunct (but still highly visible) Martin architectural fitting looming over Bournemouth Square has had its raison d'etre investigated, and after a call to Martin themselves, it is being positively dealt with for the benefit of the Square's tens of thousands of users.
We'll stay in touch with Re:LIT to follow the Shelley Theatre development, which is due for completion on the 28th March. In the meantime, if you would like to apply to be a Re:lit project, or represent a manufacturer which would like to donate equipment, please visit the Re:LIT project website.
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