Architecture of Light

The Speirs Major studio signs lighting projects all over the world, redefining lighting standards and becoming one of the benchmarks in the field.

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«Imaginative, innovative, ambitious ideas require hard work and a lot of discipline». Word of SPEIRS MAJOR

From master plans to neighborhood parks, from large buildings to bridges passing through monuments, up to the most intimate spaces: for 25 years, the SPEIRS MAJOR studio has been signing lighting projects all over the world, redefining lighting standards and becoming one of the benchmarks in the field. An international team led by senior partners and founders Mark Major and Keith Bradshaw operates in the two offices in London and Tokyo, making interdisciplinarity its greatest strength. Experts of different subjects work in the studio, lighting designers but also architects, connoisseurs of new media, students of fine arts and theater academies; their creative minds combine talents and visions to think outside the box, balancing imagination and realism, passion and pragmatism, in order to identify spectacular solutions that are also safe and easy to manage. All while still keeping a watchful eye on issues related to light pollution and the conscious use of energy.

The work of SPEIRS MAJOR is not simple lighting engineering, but real architecture of light. The studio explains: “The term was coined in the 20th century to describe how light can completely change the character of a building or space, alter people’s perceptions and emotional responses. In the 21st century we have evolved even further and started considering natural light as part of the equation as well, to minimize the environmental impact and obtain soft effects». The team’s approach to each new challenge follows a well-defined process, which starts from elaborating a general strategy based on the client’s brief, followed by in-depth analyzes related to cost control and preliminary feasibility checks. Then the development of the idea follows, with tests and simulations to verify its solidity, and we then go on with the assembly and the necessary adjustments until the system is put into operation. Among the greatest difficulties is staying true to the “story of light”, because its yield and its effects are difficult to convey. They continue from SPEIRS MAJOR: «Unlike concrete or stone, light is an ephemeral material and its effects are difficult to represent. We use sketches, drawings, diagrams, 3D models and animations to communicate.”

Is Molas Resort
3. Is Molas Resort

The studio seems to have a special relationship with “its” London, where it has taken care of the image of the major landmarks. Among the latest efforts is the lighting of Battersea Power Station, restored and reconverted into a mixed-use hub with shops, entertainment and cultural venues, offices and homes by architects Wilkinson Eyre. The lighting scheme began to be developed in 2014, simultaneously with the definition of the intervention, and combined the need to give safety to the new inhabitants with that of guiding patrons around commercial areas, without forgetting the general lighting which enhances the characteristics of the former power plant. «The light celebrates the rebirth of Battersea Power Station, gives it strength, enhances the four fireplaces and its magnificent vertical development, drawing attention to details that are less appreciable during the day». 

The masterplan for the lighting of the entire Kings Cross area, affected by various recovery interventions, was supervised by SPEIRS MAJOR and the lights for the Gasholder (the old gasometers reused as residential buildings) and the park that surrounds them.

7. Coal Drops Yard - Ph. John Sturrock

The operation led by the team for the new light of the choir, transepts and nave of Westminster Abbey, inaugurated shortly before the pandemic, is far-reaching. The operation «…experienced as a privilege but also as a great responsibility» focused on the creation of a 100% LED system with wireless control, and on the re-lamping of the 16 monumental Waterford crystal chandeliers: the focus of the intervention is the vault, of which all the decorative details can now be appreciated, and the possibility of easily setting different scenarios designed for tourist visits, liturgies or special events, for example the coronation of King Charles III about to happen next May.

8. Westminster Abbey - Ph. James Newton

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