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Luminaries of the lighting profession gathered at the elegant Crystal Tea Room in Philadelphia, PA USA on 22 May to honor the winners of the 36th Annual International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) International Lighting Design Awards. Twentythree projects from 12 countries were on display—including exteriors, interiors, workspaces, museums, hospitality sites and a place of worship. This year’s winners represent some of the most innovative and inspiring architectural lighting design work found anywhere in the world.

The design of the London Mithraeum in London, England UK with lighting design by Tillotson Design Associates and Schreiber Studio, took home an IALD Award of Excellence.

Within the depths of the Bloomberg European Headquarters lies a temple, the London Mithraeum, whose walls are half Roman ruins, half light.

This three-level immersive exhibit showcases thousands of relics, giving the public insight into times long past. Lighting design here plays a functional as well as narrative role, marking the boundaries of the ancient space.

Tillotson Design Associates and Schreiber Studio worked closely with architects, exhibit designers, engineers and a light artist to create a space that displays an understanding of the human visual system that is remarkable and inspirational. “This is professional lighting design at its best,” one judge said.

This collaboration resulted in a careful synchronization of architectural lighting, artistic lighting, video content, haze and music. The need to create a seamless experience for visitors meant doing calculations to perfectly place and weigh pendant fixtures so that air currents from the haze machines would not be disruptive. All details had to be accounted for.

At the street level, one climate-controlled case that included over 600 Roman artifacts could not be lit by integrated lighting. Designers aimed LED spotlights from the ceiling onto the items which were laid on pyramidal forms which both referenced classical architecture and minimized track light shadows.

From the street level, visitors move to the mezzanine level where projected figures emerge from the shadows into light. To ensure that ambient light does not distract from the projections, under-bench lighting and very low brightness LED downlights are used throughout the level.

It is the lowest level that multiple judges praised as “magical” and a “phenomenal use of light as a determinant of space along with other dynamic mediums.”

Here the technical challenges were greater as the designers needed to not just understand the physics of light, but also coordinate with air systems and ceiling construction. Walls of structural light rise over the foundation remnants of the temple and the haze of theatrical fog gives the light beams their physicality.

The light is aimed horizontally onto a series of concealed mirrors and the plane of light is then interrupted by baffles to create portals. The altar of the temple has five layers of cantilevered steel so that each silhouette is illuminated.

The lower level also features bespoke LED pendant lights suspended from invisible cords to illuminate the ruin from below eye level, as to enhance rather than detract from the illusion.

With the multiple forms of light and innovative treatments, Tillotson Design Associates and Schreiber Studio delivered not just a lighting design, but an immersive light experience.


London Mithraeum
London, England UK


Suzan Tillotson, IALD
Mitul Parekh (Formerly of Tillotson Design Associates)
Shan Jiang, Associate IALD
Tillotson Design Associates

Matthew Schreiber
Schreiber Studio


Architecture / Exhibition Design
Wendy Evans Joseph
Studio Joseph

Architect of Record
Owe Schoof
Foster + Partners

Lead Designer / Media – Local Projects
Jake Barton

Sophie Jackson
Museum of London Archaeology

Mark Taylor
Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd

Bloomberg L.P.

© James Newton, JN Photographs

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