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Overcoming design challenges at Gibside School, UK


  • Gibside school - classroom
  • Gibside school - classroom 2
  • Gibside shool - staff room
  • Gibside school - pool
  • Gibside school - external
  • Lamp efficacy

    Lamp efficacy

    Ensuring the lamp efficiently converts electricity into light (lm/W).

  • Ballast classification

    Ballast classification

    Controlling the electricity supply to the lamp (Energy Efficiency Index).

  • Luminaire distribution

    Luminaire distribution

    Controlling light emission using optics which bend and shape the light to the correct location.

  • System efficacy

    System efficacy

    Combining optical and thermal control within the luminaire (luminaire lm/W).

  • Presence/absence detection

    Presence/absence detection

    Presence: Lights automatically turn on/off with movement. Absence: Lights automatically turn off and must be manually switched on.

  • Daylight detection

    Daylight detection

    Artificial lighting which responds to the natural light conditions.

  • Constant illuminance

    Constant illuminance

    A function designed to produce correct light levels for the duration of the maintenance period.

  • Task-scene setting

    Task-scene setting

    Allowing the user to set scenes and adapt the lighting to different tasks.

  • Timed off

    Timed off

    Automatic cut-off can be installed to turn all lights off during unoccupied hours.

  • Task lighting

    Task lighting

    Lighting task areas with the correct amount of light.

  • Zoning of lighting

    Zoning of lighting

    Lighting is zoned according to area use.

  • Maintenance schedule

    Maintenance schedule

    Maintenance must be performed in response to product age, performance and environment.

  • Waste light

    Waste light

    Eliminating waste light which does not hit the intended target.

  • Reflectance


    Taking advantage of light which is reflected from the surface within the space.

  • Visible smart metering

    Visible smart metering

    Results of actions can be quickly seen as increased or decreased energy use to encourage responsible energy consumption.

The lighting design of Gibside School, Gateshead's new flagship state-of-the-art special needs primary school, wasn’t without its challenges. Vaulted and unique ceiling designs were soon overcome by the design team at Thorn Lighting. The team prepared a full interior and exterior lighting design layout to Wates Construction and McVickers Electrical Contractors for the £12.1 million design and build project that was subsequently approved by Gateshead Council.

Gibside is a primary school for pupils with a range of special needs (moderate learning disabilities (MLD), severe learning disabilities (SLD), profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) and autism spectrum condition (ASC). The new school accommodates 170 pupils, and the specially designed building includes a hydrotherapy pool with hoists, two halls, an internal sheltered courtyard so children can play outdoors in all weather, a multi-use games area with accessible gym equipment, sensory and soft playrooms, specialist changing facilities and offices for physiotherapy.

The classrooms initially posed a problem as the ceiling is vaulted and also flat in places, making uniformity an issue. Thorn’s IQ Wave range was the ideal solution. A combination of the suspended and surface mounted luminaires, provide great uniformity and illumination levels for the classrooms. IQ Wave incorporates Thorn’s unique MV-Tech light optic and the highly reflective back, creates a smooth, homogenous illuminance with great lighting quality and high user comfort. Low glare (UGR 19, <3 000 CD/m2 at 65°) ensures a comfortable ambient light while high efficacy (>100Llm/W) achieves significant energy savings when compared to traditional light sources. IQ Wave benefits from a modern wave design and the flexibility of several installation options including the possibility of recessing the luminaire in exposed and concealed grid systems as well as plasterboard.

For the swimming pool lighting, a unique ceiling had to be incorporated into the design. This obstacle was overcome with the use of Thorn’s Areaflood Pro floodlights mounted directly and indirectly over the pool area. Areaflood Pro is a general-purpose area floodlight with superior optical performance, control and efficiency. Optimal light control (0cd at 90°, minimal spill light) provides a comfortable low glare lighting for swimmers and its 100k hours rated lifetime on both drivers and LEDs ensures minimal maintenance costs.

Thorn’s extremely efficient Hipak Pro high bay illuminates the sports hall,with a dedicated asymmetric optic, sports bracket for extra security and a high light output of up to 18500 lumens. The innovative design of the body ensures optimal thermal management and a long LED life up to 50 000 hours. With significantly reduced maintenance.

Beta has been installed in the offices to provide a flexible, efficient, and long-lasting solution with a prismatic diffuser in square and rectangular variants suiting the traditional modular ceiling dimensions (600, 625, 300x1200).

The corridors have been lit using Thorn’s Chalice LED downlights and slim, circular Novaline luminaires. Chalice is a complete range of LED downlights with two diameters (150mm and 200mm) and a SMD-LED module providing lumen package options from 1200lm up to 2700lm. Novaline LED offers a wide variety of lighting options with four lumen packages; 1 250, 1 800, 2 500 and 3 500 lumens, and a choice of two colour temperatures; 3000K and 4000K, for lighting design and application flexibility.

Glacier efficient decorative LED pendants with high lumen packages have been installed in the halls, creating a modern fresh appearance.

Other interior luminaires installed include Cetus recessed downlights in the toilets and Aquaforce IP66, dust and moisture resistant LED luminaires in the plant area.

For the exterior, Piazza II LED robust IP65 rated luminaires with a unique light distribution have been mounted on to the external walls. Piazza II LED offers 3 metre forward light throw and 12 metre spacing with a very low upward light throw with less than 2.5% ULOR and excellent 116 lm/W efficiency. DCO-LED bollards have been installed on pathways to provide comfortable visual guidance via an ambient white light with no glare. Civiteq LED lanterns have also been incorporated with 120 LEDs driven at 350mA and a wide optic.

David Wingfield, business unit director of Wates Construction in Yorkshire & North East comments: “The handover of this project is a fantastic achievement for all involved. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, our teams and partners have worked tirelessly and used huge amounts of initiative to deliver this state-of-the-art facility, within budget and to the specific design requirements of the school”.