Bluewater shops at Helvar for new control system

Bluewater is one of Europe’s largest shopping and leisure centres and in the UK it became the blueprint for successful retail destinations following its opening in 1999. The site boasts a huge variety of entertainment and shops from family play areas to the world’s leading fashion houses. However, one area that needed a revamp was the Wintergarden which houses the food court. London-based Lighting Design International (LDI) was called in to see how it could help and deployed a Helvar lighting control system to bring new life to the old site.

The brief set by Bluewater was not to update but to completely transform the dated and poorly-lit Wintergarden to combine an exciting, contemporary aesthetic with improved functionality, making the space easier to navigate and encouraging visitors to return throughout the day and into the evening.

Featuring a Helvar 458 dimmer, the system operates via photocell and timed control so the ambient lighting changes throughout the day. Project designer, Graham Rollins of LDI has created specific scenes that utilise colour and gobos to increase drama and patterned effects. Ethernet and DMX control give maximum flexibility and variety of scene setting.

Connected to a Helvar router a number of LED dimmers react to feedback from the photocell sensor. During the day the sensor will override the system to deploy a lighting pre-set, depending on the external light levels. Master control of the system comes via Helvar’s 924 touch screen which is password protected to minimise use to just staff. A series of pages have been set up on the interface which allow staff to select different zones within the food court and set light scenes, plus a colour recall page for DMX colour changing.

It was important for spaces to feel impressive, light and voluminous during daytime, and then intimate during the evening. To create the desired engaging and contemporary look, LDI introduced a splash of colour with infinity coffers in the mall link, uplights to the trees in the atrium and roof structure and refreshed colour uplighting to the iconic lake glass towers.

Coloured feature lights then linked the three individual zones (mall link, atrium seating, lower seating) with the same identity, while allowing white light to be dimmed to create a comfortable, cosy atmosphere during the evening.

The end result in the Wintergarden is now in keeping with the rest of the Bluewater retail and leisure spaces with extremely positive feedback having been received from staff and customers alike. The revived space is functional, warm and welcoming with a lighting scheme that offers energy efficiency and the desired level of flexibility and adaptability over the course of a full day.

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