RE: Warehouse project – façade lighting design needed

An email lands in your inbox on Monday morning. A group that owns over 70 hotels worldwide has just bought a large, derelict warehouse in a big city.

Over the next year, their plan is to completely renovate it, creating the number one go-to destination in the area. As well as providing contemporary accommodation and state-of-the art facilities, it will feature a number of restaurants, bars, boutique shops and coffee bars.

They’ve seen your work elsewhere and you’ve been personally recommended. Because they like to be a little bit different, they’ve asked you to design a new lighting scheme for the warehouse façade. You’ve got free reign. Ultimate control. They’ve set you no limits, no boundaries and you’ve got a large budget to play with. The only objective? To ensure that even when the sunsets, the city-goers are attracted to this location.

What are you going to do?
In our façade lighting guide, we outline the various methods that can be used to light a building or structure’s façade. Here are just some of the ways you might want to use light to create that impact.

By using building surface mounted luminaires, you could create a high contrast solution with a close offset accentuating the material, colour and finish of a building. Our PLAZA family of products could be installed at multiple levels or in between windows to accentuate the architectural aesthetic.

A linear luminaire (ground recessed or surface mounted) such as BLADE could provide an uninterrupted consisted wash of light up the building’s frontage. This would pick out different storeys or illuminate the whole façade as a low glare solution.

If it’s a really big warehouse, you might decide to use a floodlight – perhaps pole mounted away from the building – or affixed to the building itself. Our high-output FUSION provides a uniform lit effect with consistent colour.

You could achieve a striking pixel effect by using VISTA FLEX. Integrating your chosen luminaire into the buildings features would also allow the fittings to go unnoticed during daylight hours, but completely transforming the façade in darkness.

Depending on the construction of this derelict warehouse – you could decide to backlight the façade. The architectural detail and material type is key to the consistency of the lit effect here. The BLADE family is the best option – providing a consistent backlighting graze.

Lighting historic buildings and structures – key considerations

Two decades ago, Historic England produced guidance on how to light historic buildings and structures. The aim was to protect buildings from damage and limit light pollution. This guidance has newly been updated to include the advances of lighting in the last 20 years.

So what should be considered when lighting heritage properties, listed monuments or protected sites? Historic England’s Senior Building Services Engineer, Geraldine O’Farrell outlined some of the points included in the guidance which we think are particularly important:

Lighting should give an added dimension and greater night time presence which enhances key architectural features as well as any national, local, social or heritage significance.

We agree with this completely. Last year, we illuminated a 16th Century historic property in Burnley, Lancashire. Although Towneley Hall sits at the heart of large parkland used by the general public for walking, running and socialising, it was unlit at night. By adding PLAZA R spotlights, the grounds have become an attraction and a reason for people to visit - even in darkness. Our ‘Explore the Night’ brochure goes into more detail about how lighting changes spaces and creates new atmospheres in towns and cities.

Sufficient protection against vandalism should be provided, for example where light fittings are located on the ground.

This is an important factor regardless of whether the lighting is installed in a vast public space or a quieter rural spot. To provide added security, we use anti-tamper screws on our PLAZA R in-ground luminaires and the BLADE linear fitting has an optional anti-tamper kit. Other lighting manufacturers have produced lighting made from stainless steel or thick polycarbonate to tackle the issue of vandalism.

The lighting should be relatively easy to operate, adjust and maintain and can be switched off at an appropriate time.

Nowadays, lighting schemes can be dynamic and altered whenever needed. With technologies such as our ONE platform, end users can control their lighting from a smart phone and change it depending on their needs, for example to mark a special occasion. Likewise, most people are aware of the impact that lighting has on our dark skies and, with such technology, can manage the on and off times to conserve energy and reduce light pollution.

External luminaires should be positioned inconspicuously and be respectful of the historic fabric.

This can be achieved by positioning the light fitting on neighbouring street furniture or adjacent buildings, disguising with planting or trees or using the buildings’ own decorative elements. This was the case when we worked on the Iron Bridge in Shropshire last year. Unable to install luminaires on or under the bridge, we mounted our FUSION floodlights on bespoke wooden poles that were positioned in unobtrusive locations nearby.

There are various other considerations when lighting historic buildings. To find out what these are, refer to Historic England’s guidance on external lighting for historic buildings, click here:

To read about some of the heritage structures we’ve illuminated – visit the case study section of the website:




Doing IT for the local community

acdc is doing its bit for the local community by donating unused IT equipment to a local high school in Colne, Lancashire. 

The laptops, monitors, keyboards, mice and other related equipment will be given out by the school to pupils who, because of the coronavirus pandemic, need to study at home but are unable to do so because they don’t have access to computers or are sharing with siblings.

One of the school's Senior Leaders, Mr Atkin said, “We've already loaned out all available equipment to pupils, so we are grateful to acdc and Business2Schools who put us in touch with each other so that we can provide this additional equipment to those pupils who need it most. It will have a big impact on the families who, for example, have children at home from different year groups and are struggling to juggle equipment between them.”

acdc’s Head of Finance, Stacy Gouhar had the idea to donate equipment after seeing a story on BBC News. “After a restructure in the business, we had some spare computers and laptops that were in good condition but sat in an office not being used. In the past, we would have destroyed and disposed of them, but I was already looking into ways of recycling them. That’s when I saw a news clip talking about how desperate schools were for IT equipment. I’d already given my personal laptop to a friend so that they could home school their child, so I knew instantly that it was something we could help with.”

The charity mentioned in the news clip was Business2Schools, the organisation helping businesses recycle their unwanted equipment so that it reinvigorates pupils’ learning and avoids filling up landfill sites. Stacy sent them an email and they quickly responded and put her in touch with Fisher More. “It was great that Business2schools put me in touch with a local school and make that connection for us. All we had to do was ensure the computers were wiped to avoid any GDPR issues and then deliver everything to the school. I would encourage any [UK based] businesses who have spare equipment to get in touch with Business2schools so that they can get the items to pupils who need them.”

Lindsey Parslow, Chief Executive of Business2Schools said, “re-homing and re-use of business tech as opposed to recycling, has a massive impact on education.  Being able to pass on the things businesses no longer need enables schools to upgrade their devices and save on funding. It also means that more children will have access to online learning and get us a step closer to narrowing the digital divide. Companies like acdc really are helping us change the landscape for learning and protecting the environment."

If you're a UK business that would like to donate any unwanted IT equipment, email [email protected] or visit to find your local registered school drop off centre.


Product launch webinar

Join acdc's Head of Product Management, Pete Blackburn, for an introduction to our latest products. You'll meet our new outdoor architectural ceiling downlight the VERTIGO C and the highly adaptable VISTA FLEX.

Composing your urban design language – ‘Pride’

The first in a three-part series, this webinar will look to introduce the role of lighting in redefining the cultural identity of a community and what makes a location unique in the hours of darkness.

During the webinar we discuss the importance understanding the activity and key views of the community at the centre of the scheme and how through a sustainable approach to a new design new experiences can be created that will encourage a new level of pride in an urban setting.

Key topics will include:
• View and scale
• Materials
• IP/ IK rating
• Light pollution.

Watch the webinar now

Fast change in fashion – Zumtobel webinar: 4th February 2021

The typical point of sale no longer works. During the CoViD-19 pandemic, each of us recognised what we were missing at that time: social, emotional and interactive experiences. A real shopping experience. The POS has changed and is now the point of experience.

In the third webinar of our retail webinar series, we explain how you can make your lighting "Fit for the future".

You will find out, among other things:
- What other challenges will retail face in the future?
- why are curative areas so important?
- what role does branding play?
- Which requirements result for the lighting?
- how you can make your lighting future-proof?

Why you have to change retail luminaires now- Zumtobel webinar: 4th March 2021

The EU lamp ban successively prohibits the sale of ineffective lamps. So that your store will not be without lamps tomorrow, find out here which lamps will expire next through the Single Lighting Regulation (SLR).

What should you watch out for when replacing lights? We'll explain it in the fourth webinar in our retail webinar series. Our standardisation expert speaks on this.

You will also learn:
- which lamps will no longer be available?
- why is an investment in modern LED lights worth it now?
- why can I save additional money?
- why light quality even increases my sales?

Creating a town’s unique identity at night

As urban populations grow around the world, there’s increasing investment in land, property and infrastructure. When councils and municipalities include architectural lighting in this investment, they’re helping to create a unique identity for their towns and cities.

Whether it’s through lighting a heritage building or a modern structure, this investment allows locals to experience their home town or city at night in a way they may never have experienced it before, creating a sense of pride.

Architectural lighting brings cities to life at night – enticing tourists into urban spaces and areas where there are shops, bars or restaurants, increasing that all important dwell time. It's also a powerful marketing tool. As lighting offers a different perspective not just on architecture, but on landscapes, plazas and gardens – it can be used to differentiate one town or city from the next. For these reasons – lighting is often a key consideration in a city or town’s tourism strategy.

At acdc we’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of local councils who wanted to light local landmarks with the aim of drawing people towards these spaces.

If you'd like to see some the projects we've completed and learn about how we lit these amazing town and cities our Explore the night guide is here to download!

Explore the Night

Across the globe as urban populations grow, investment in urban real estate, infrastructure and renovation is becoming more prominent.
Architectural lighting as part of this investment can provide a city with it’s own identity.
Whether it’s a building or structure, modern or heritage, lighting is key in ensuring locals can, want and feel proud to experience their home town or city at night.


LinkedIn Live Series Begins with Historic England

In the first of our LinkedIn Live series Geraldine O'Farrell from Historic England.
Geraldine will discuss what should be considered when designing and installing external lighting for historic structures and their surroundings.
This 20-minute discussion will be followed by a question and answer session.
Join us on LinkedIn at 10am on the 8th October!

Lighting as a key layer in urban design – CPD RIBA Approved Webinar

In this session, acdc's Lighting Applications Director Dan Hodgson will consider why and how to light external spaces to provide an experience in the hours of darkness.

He will also look at how through applying layers of light, we can create an identity that captures the community and encourages them to spend more time in that space, increasing visitor numbers and fundamentally, spend. This session will help you to understand how technology and the way we live is challenging how we illuminate plazas and landscapes, how lighting can be integrated into its surroundings and the key methods of how to apply light (with best practice examples).

Watch the webinar here.

acdc Presents… Historic England

We’re extremely excited to launch our LinkedIn Live Programme through a series of new digital sessions – ‘acdc Presents’. Beginning in August we will be joined by guest speakers who will be sharing their knowledge and experiences relating to lighting and the wider industry.

Our first LinkedIn Live will be broadcast directly from our LinkedIn page on Thursday 20th August at 10am GMT. We're incredibly excited to be joined by Geraldine O'Farrell, Senior Building Services Engineer for Historic England's Technical Conservation Team and author of the publication, 'External Lighting for Historic Buildings'.

Geraldine will discuss what should be considered when designing and installing external lighting for historic structures and their surroundings.

This educational talk will last for approximately 20 minutes, followed by the opportunity for attendees to ask questions.

Want to join us on the 20th? Simply make sure you’re following acdc on LinkedIn and be online at 10am!

You can follow us on LinkedIn by clicking here:

Historic England – who are they?

Historic England is a public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England's spectacular historic environment. The organisation manages the National Heritage List for England which includes over 400,000 items including prehistoric monuments, parks, battlefields and office blocks.

The work of Historic England includes protecting historic places, providing conservation advice and advice on planning permissions. Their expert teams work with Government bodies, developers and local authorities to ensure England's heritage is respected, cherished and enhanced. Click below to learn more.

What’s to come?

Our second LinkedIn live broadcast will take place at the beginning of September, with acdc Head of Product Management Pete Blackburn discussing the ONE technology and how it can be used to light historic buildings. We’ve got plenty more sessions lined up – so make sure you’re signed up to see who we’ll be joined by in the coming weeks and months.


A new chapter for acdc

acdc’s CEO Gareth Frankland has left the business by mutual agreement, taking effect from 1 April 2020.

Gareth grew the acdc brand for over 24 years, and was instrumental in positioning the company as one that stands for innovation and creativity, for challenging the norm and pushing boundaries and for fun and hard work – in equal measure.

The Zumtobel Group acquired a 60% share of acdc in 2015 with the agreement that they would purchase the remainder of the business in April 2020. Now that this milestone has been reached, acdc is a full member of the Group and is well positioned as the outdoor architectural brand within it.

“I leave in place a fantastic team, a strong product portfolio and roadmap, and an awesome culture,” Gareth said. “It has been a massive privilege to have worked with some amazing people over the years, creating and leading a ground breaking lighting company, developing and growing it into a global lighting brand, and now handing it over to one of the largest lighting companies in the world.”

The business is left in the very capable hands of Global Business Development Manager Richard Gunn, who until further notice acts as General Manager of acdc.

The acdc family and wider Zumtobel Group thank Gareth for his commitment and enthusiasm over the years and wish him all the best for his personal as well as professional future.

Press contact

Jessica Dixon
Marketing and Communications Manager (acdc)
Email: [email protected]

Tel: +44 7967448951

Lighting a façade – what should be considered?

Light shapes our view, our opinion of a space and even how long we will stay.

A lighting scheme can influence whether we will come back again, it helps shape our urban space in the hours of darkness, bringing out the materials, textures & finishes of the surfaces around us. New technologies have enabled lighting to be considered earlier in the design process allowing for the luminaires to be integrated providing a seamless & integrated solution so that by day the building is seen in full view and then by night the luminaires and the lit effect brings the building to life.

At acdc we always discuss 5 fundamental considerations when it comes to lighting a façade - context, contrast, colour, control and people. So let's start with context.

Lighting external façades brings value and interest to an urban environment - it brings people into a community and thereby brings investment. Architectural lighting can include a complete plaza or a street, it is not always only a single façade. By considering the role the building(s) play in the community and how one façade is balanced with another, we are able to create point of reference within an urban environment, using light as meeting points, points of destination, communal space in the hours of darkness.
Architectural lighting should be seamlessly integrated to enable a building to be seen and appreciated during the day and then bring the building to life in the hours of darkness.
The specifier should consider the mounting options available to illuminate the building and consider the use of the building. How do people use it, interact with it and how should the external lighting consider this?

Next we will discuss contrast:
Urban design should enable key points of interest to be focal points at night, careful planning with the integration of architectural lighting to a space will encourage people to spend more time outside, to explore, experience, enjoy and play.
It is the play of light and shadow and the ratio between the two that will shape a project, will a façade be lit with a uniform wash of light by fittings that are offset, or have surface mount linear fittings grazing up the façade framing the height, colour and texture? How will this balance with the perimeter public lighting or lighting to the urban streets?
The lighting integrated into a façade can also be a key ingredient in the lighting to the public realm space below and around. Through backlighting or integrated lighting, the direct and diffused light provides a positive contribution to the public realm illumination.

So what should be considered when it comes to colour?
Again, consideration should be given to the context of the building with regards to colour being applied. A review of the adjacent buildings is key to ensure that a competition does not ensue. The type of building and its use should be considered to decide whether colour should be applied at all. Think of the material specification and finish of the building and how light can enhance this not eliminate it.
Looking at the different types of finish; for an historical building the finish is often matt in a warm coloured stone - emphasising the architecture using a warm colour temperature of 2700K or 3000K. Consideration can also be given to a dynamic white solution enabling the specifier to pick ‘the right white.’
Modern building techniques have meant that the colour of the light is very important in drawing out the colour and finish of the façade. An example is CorTen steel (weathering steel) with the rusting orange textured finish, but in the hours of darkness if it is not lit it disappears. If warm white light is projected upon the façade the colour and warmth begins to be defined, and if the contrast upon the façade is varied by ‘picking out’ architectural details by using different beam angles then the character is further defined.
Where colour is implemented it can be used to represent an activity, a movement, a special occasion. Bringing a new positive visual impact to an urban space.
If a façade is glazed further investigation should be given to whether it is clear, opal or frosted in some way, helping to determine a suitable lit effect. It may also be suitable to consider how the internal lighting of a building can express the external appearance at night. Thereby saving on installation costs, energy consumption and further maintenance costs.

Ok so we've discussed context, contrast and colour, now let's look at control of the lighting scheme.
Control doesn’t have to mean blue to red to yellow over three seconds! It can be the play of the intensity of the light, a change from warm white to cool white. Having only a few defined scenes of light that change automatically over a year during the seasons.
The control of the lit effect can enable the viewer to have a new experience, a different view of the space around them because of how it is controlled, changing the identity and thereby the look and feel of a space each time they return.
Control can mean the slow movement of light that responds to the movement of people, or changing the colour to respond or pay respect to a global charity day.
How the external space is used at night can inform the control of lighting, as the hours of darkness grow into the early hours of the following day that not all of the scheme is still on, and this control may differ from weekdays to the weekend too as the use of the external space differs.

And last but absolutely not least it's important to consider people and how they will interact with the space.
People are at the centre of any new lighting design to enable them to have new positive shared experiences in the urban space.
Consider how people will interact with the space that is being lit, their view point so that they do not see into the light source, the view internally out and vice versa. Fundamentally it is how the light attracts them back to a space, to make them feel safe and at ease in the external environment.
Light can define a personal space without the physical visual noise of other object. Through integrated lighting an open public realm can come to life in the hours of darkness, allowing people to be alone, sit with friends, enjoy the view around them all whilst feeling secure and safe in the environment around them.

Author: Dan Hodgson, acdc Lighting Applications Director