Birmingham City Council House - Phase One
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Birmingham City Council House is the seat of local government for the UK’s second city. The Grade II* listed, Classically-styled building opened in 1879, and overlooks Victoria Square in the city centre. The site also houses the adjoined Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the “Big Brum” clock tower.
In anticipation of Birmingham hosting the then-forthcoming 2022 Commonwealth Games, plans were drawn up to modernise the lighting scheme throughout the Council House and, in a subsequent second phase, the adjacent Art Gallery expansion block. This also presented the opportunity to move forward with the council’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030 using intelligent, energy-efficient LED luminaires and lighting control systems to replace the old fixed-output fluorescent fittings.
As a UK-based, carbon-neutral manufacturer, Thorlux Lighting was selected to supply and commission lighting for the modernisation project. Thorlux engineers were able to survey the building during the UK’s period of Covid lockdown, prior to an installation period of approximately 24 months.
It was clear that retrofitting the lighting systems would present several challenges. The Council House is a busy workplace; any control systems needed to be simple to use and flexible. It was important to achieve the maximum level of energy conservation. And crucially, given the listed status of the building, there could be no significant alteration of the structure for new wiring.
The simplest way of minimising new wiring in a lighting scheme is to use wireless monitoring and controls. Thorlux’s award-winning SmartScan system provides site managers with full, at-a-glance monitoring of luminaire performance, energy use and occupancy throughout the building and in the courtyard car park, using the online SmartScan platform. SmartScan’s mesh network technology provides reliable and robust communication between luminaires. Wireless Gateway devices control each floor and major area of the building; each Thorlux-equipped room has a wall-mounted SmartScan Touch controller to manually control light levels or switch between lighting ‘scenes.’ This, coupled with efficient luminaires that switch off when a space is vacant, gives BCC site managers an exceptional level of lighting energy control.
The design team used suspended rafts to minimise the number of ceiling fixtures required, particularly in corridors and meeting rooms. These rafts were used for routing of power cables and will also hold future data cabling. Thorlux supplied customised Light Line Integra luminaires with no uplight for this application. Engineers installed a wide range of other Thorlux luminaires in different areas of the building, including Hi-Style LEDs in office spaces, corrosion-resistant Thoroproofs in the kitchen areas, wall-mounted Ovix luminaires in stairwells, with IP66-rated Realtas in the courtyard car park and maintained Duo-Spot spotlights to highlight escape routes.
Commissioning of the first phase of lighting began in March 2022 and was staggered over the next six months to avoid disruption. This has helped maximise the efficiency of the new Thorlux lighting systems. With the second phase of the lighting refit now underway in the Art Gallery extension block, Thorlux is excited to continue to support this important project.