MBLD Design Lighting for Crossrail Place, Canary Wharf, London


Crossrail Place, a building designed by architects Foster + Partners, is a horizontal structure that evokes a sense of a sail boat floating on the dock waters that once sailed the West India Dock. With its natural wooden lattice beams and transparent ETFE cushions, it is an architectural cocoon that counterbalances to the rising steel and glass buildings that surround it.


MBLD began the Imagineering process on the project in 2008 and the scope included interior lighting to main entrances, Bridges, external lighting to the promenade walkways, Adams Place, Flood Storage Reservoir and the Roof garden that dominates the complete length of the building.


Our lighting narrative was to design scenes that engages with people’s spatial experience and gives each area, each pathway and each corner a distinctive character, whilst maintaining an overall harmony with the site and neighbourhood.




The roof top public garden, a landscape designed around the main walkway has combination of exotic trees and planting. Custom gimbal luminaires mounted in the roof nodes were used to illuminate the main central pathway. Smaller, winding, secondary pathways a higher and more even illumination was required using bollards to comply with the client’s brief of higher illumination levels to deter any anti-social behaviour.




A conscious decision was made not to have any lighting for the roof skin, to allow the park lighting to filter through the translucent ETFE panels for views from the ground. Trees and planting were lit to create a lighting canvas of shape, shadow, texture and tone that leads visitors through the landscape.


Lines of light mounted between the louvers tie in the architectural language for the main entrances. Each of the entrance luminaires is compliant with LU 1-085 regulation of London Underground as a design requirement. The pedestrian bridge connecting the main entrance has a single line of light running the length allows for unimpeded views of the interiors.


For external areas we looked to combine light and architecture as a way of minimising column lighting this is demonstrated in lighting to Adams place which is achieved by hiding luminaires inside the structural ‘V’ columns of the bridge.


Finally, theatrical rhythms are positioned at selected public realm locations such as lighting to the flood storage reservoir. High power floods with straw coloured gels hidden under the walkway capture the movement of reeds in the wind. The play of light and movement is extended to the pedestrian bridge which is punctuated with specially designed carbon fibre reeds up to 9m tall that gently sway in the wind.


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