THE BLAVATNIK SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT,
UNIVERSIT Y OF OXFORD
HOARE LEA LIGHTING
Compared by more than one architectural
commentator to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim,
Herzog and de Meuron’s Blavatnik School of
Government building is the latest addition to the
Oxford University roster. Funded by a £75m donation
from USSR-born businessman Leonard Blavatnik,
the building was decribed, in a good way, by the
FT’s Edwin Heathcote as a ‘stack of glass dishes,
like a wonky pile of washing-up’, with an interior
‘like an unspooled film’.
A key element of the lighting brief was to deliver
a scheme ‘that echoed the circular nature of the
building,’ says Ben Acton, executive lighting designer,
Hoare Lea Lighting.
The lighting design exploits the use of concrete
finishes with both daylight and artificial light. ‘This
was achieved by careful consideration of how the eye
and brain perceive “white”,’ says Acton. The high levels
of daylight entering the building are seen as cool
or blue in colour temperature, contrasting with the
warmer artificial light that softens the coldness
of the concrete.
A full daylight study ensured maximum daylight
penetration, while minimising solar gain. Motorised
blinds integrated into the facade system provide
further control. Daylight reaches into lecture theatres,
while dividing walls made of clear glass and internal
courtyards with skylights introduce daylight to work
and study spaces.
Visitors enter into the heart of the building through
The Forum central meeting area on the lower ground
floor. This circular atrium space cuts through the
centre of the building, connecting all levels and giving
views across all floors. Lighting across the floors is
provided by seven bespoke luminaires, whose design
was inspired by the cylindrical form of the building.
The Wila fittings are recessed, surface-mounted and
suspended, and either solid discs or halos in shape,
the different styles delineating different spaces, while
having a common visual language that reflects the
circularity of the structure. Using individual Dali
control, the atrium and adjacent areas across the
seven levels are controlled together to ensure the
space is viewed and orchestrated as a whole.
The scheme exploits the use of concrete finishes with both
daylight and artificial light J o h