York Minster highlights architectural heritage and makes energy savings with Concord

York Minster Triforium

Concord by Sylvania, an expert in illuminating heritage buildings and part of Felio Sylvania, has overseen the installation of an entirely new to lighting scheme for York Minster cathedral after being selected for the project by Sutton Vane Associates

The new lighting system at the Minster relies on a number of Beacon spotlights from Concord, which deliver all important energy savings to the Minster as well as showing off the buildings magnificent architectural features.

York Minster is one of the most magnificent medieval Gothic cathedrals in northern Europe, with more than half of England’s medieval stained glass held in its 128 windows. The present-day building is around 800 years old and is at least the second Minster to stand in this location, but the history of the site dates back more than 2,000 years. The Minster is not only an architecturally spectacular building but is a place to discover the history of York over the centuries, including its artefacts and treasures.

Lighting historic buildings poses many challenges and being able to control the varying lighting requirements can be somewhat complex. The previous lighting scheme in the Minster was dim, inflexible and used a combination of tungsten halogen and very harsh metal halide. Producing unwanted glare, the light fittings required regular maintenance with a high electrical consumption and short lifespans. The Minster was in need of a new lighting scheme that saved on energy, required less maintenance, was fully dimmable and flexible to accommodate the huge range of services and events that take place.

York Minster is open for sightseeing every day as well as regular services, events and concerts that take place in the various spaces available within the Minster. The lighting must therefore be extended to suit the various functions and activities taking place.

York Minster Nave

Lighting Designers Sutton Vane Associates was tasked with creating a new lighting solution for the whole building, and selected Concord to enhance the visitor experience and improve the energy efficiency of the system. The new Concord Beacon spotlights are smaller than the previous fixtures and are less intrusive to the space.

“It was essential to hide the fittings as much as possible to show off the magnificent architecture with minimum amount of visible technology and clutter,” explains Julie O’Reilly, Creative Director at Sutton Vane Associates. “It is now possible to stand at the West end and not see a single light fitting and yet the Minster is beautifully and brightly lit.”

The first part of the project to be completed was The Nave, the Nave Aisles and the Kings Screen – also known as the Quire Screen. The Kings Screen is one of the most famous features in this iconic building. The screen had previously been lit with a cold bluish white light which could not be dimmed, reducing the colours. Now it is lit with a warm white light to ensure the red and gold tones are shown in a true form, bringing the screen alive. Different beam angles were also chosen to give excellent modelling of the human faces.

York Minster Aisle

The two products used for this project were the Concord Beacon XL Muse and the Beacon XXL. Both Concord products are famed for the flexibility offered to designers, as well as high quality light output. The Beacon XXL, which is more powerful, is better suited to spaces with higher ceilings so was the perfect choice for York Minster.  Beacon XL Muse features cutting-edge LED technology and ancient lens principles to create a fully adjustable spotlight. With an increased output over the original Beacon Muse, the luminaire provides a flexible, high quality solution. The beam angle can be adjusted from 10° to 70° as well providing a dimmable range between 5-100%.

The Beacon XXL spotlight boasts an efficacy of up to 120lm/W and provides over 5700 fixture lumens with a total system power of only 48W. It is an ideal replacement for a traditional 70W CMI spotlight, providing a high power, energy efficient light source. With a high colour rendering index of up to 93Ra and an extended lifetime of up to 50,000 hours at 70% of the original output. There are also a range of accessories available including barn doors, elongation lens, honeycomb & snoot. The snoots proved to be hugely beneficial for this project as they stopped any glare and light spill onto the adjacent architecture, ensuring a precise finish.

Highlighting the success of the York Minster project, Sutton Vane Associates received the Heritage Project of the Year accolade at the Lighting Design Awards 2017. The prestigious awards recognise true excellence in the lighting industry, and the York Minster project demonstrated this with Sutton Vane Associates’ innovative design with concealed fittings.