Solid state light sources were the key to meeting the strict electrical load limits at Jamie Oliver’s latest eatery in the City of London. Lux reports

Jamie Oliver’s culinary empire continues to expand, most recently into the City of London, where Barbecoa, a restaurant that specialises in wood and charcoal-cooked food prepared under the auspices of US chef Adam Perry Lang, opened its doors late last year.

Barbecoa is on the south west corner of One New Change, a new shopping centre in the shadow of St Paul’s. It comprises a restaurant and bar on the first floor, a butcher’s shop towards the south on the ground floor and a takeaway unit – due to open later this year – directly beneath the restaurant.

AlphaLED downlights from Projection Lighting follow walkways

AlphaLED downlights from Projection Lighting follow walkways

Interior design for the project was the work of Tom Dixon, through his company Design Research Studio. The designer’s fittings are used throughout the three units, including Pipe Light, which is suspended in clusters around the double height restaurant. Dixon’s Void luminaire is used in the bar.

Early in the project, however, it became apparent that Barbecoa’s unique location with views of St Paul’s could create a problem – daylight and streetlighting flooding through the large windows would have a significant impact on the lighting scheme. So Speirs + Major conducted a detailed daylight and sunlight study of the space before engaging in the artificial lighting design.

Energy consumption

Another consideration for Speirs + Major’s Clementine Rodgers was energy consumption. The client was keen for the restaurant to have impeccable green credentials. Not only that, One New Change’s tenant co-ordinator Vindico Retail had set a total load of 250kVA for the restaurant unit – 20kVA for all the lighting (see Energy Dashboard). Also, centre operator Land Securities and architect Sidell Gibson had their own guidelines for retail frontage design, including lighting.

A mockup of the kitchen and part of the dining area

A mockup of the kitchen and part of the dining area

Sixty per cent of the energy allowance for lighting was allocated to the decorative lighting, principally Tom Dixon’s decorative pendants, which have tungsten light sources. Clementine Rodgers says: ‘They’re all tungsten and although that gives a wonderful quality it ate into our energy allowance, which made it more important to have a low-energy source providing functional lighting around the decorative sources. For every Tom Dixon fitting, we either used a higher-efficiency lamp or lower wattage than the product stated, especially given that the restaurant was likely to dim the lighting anyway.’

Solid state solution

For the remaining light sources, Speirs + Major turned to solid state technology. ‘We compiled a report for the client explaining the pros and cons of low-voltage tungsten halogen versus LED,’ says Rodgers. The report stated that LEDs were not yet a total match for tungsten sources, but that tungsten would soon be phased out. As a result, it was essential that the client considered whether it should invest in a tungsten scheme that could be replaced in a few years as part of a redesign, or to choose a more sustainable approach. ‘That was what they went for,’ says Rodgers.

After some tests, Speirs + Major chose products from Projection Lighting’s AlphaLED range for the project. The fittings are used for downlighting, wallwashing and accent lighting on columns. AlphaLED fittings are rated at 22W and incorporate Xicato light engines. The remote source light engine produces a more diffuse light than many other LED products. ‘Having a diffused source felt less intrusive in a restaurant environment because we wanted to be efficient but we didn’t want people to be looking at the downlights,’ says Rodgers.

Fittings have to compete with light from streetlamps and the sun

Fittings have to compete with light from streetlamps and the sun

‘We showed the client product samples of a couple of downlights and they were impressed with the quality of the light,’ adds Rodgers. ‘The one thing that we felt wasn’t quite there was the warmth that we would want for a restaurant so we thought “even though we’ve got the 2700K Xicatos, they don’t feel like 2700K tungsten”, so we put colour correction filters in those that are above the seating areas.

‘We knew the restaurant would use the LEDs dimmed most of the time, and with tungsten the light warms up as you dim them. We were anticipating that the client would use the LED fittings in a dimmed setting when they would want the extra warmth.’

Another critical factor was the beam angle of the source. ‘Projection was one of the few companies that were doing a 20-degree beam angle, which was about the narrowest we could get at the time,’ says Rodgers. ‘It was a double height space so we definitely needed a narrow beam.

Daylight penetrates deep into the restaurant

Daylight penetrates deep into the restaurant

‘The fittings are either aligned along a wall if they’re washing a wall, or along main circulation routes between the fixed seating. In the open seating they are relatively evenly spaced to provide enough light whatever the seating arrangement.’

A spotlight variant of the Projection LED downlights is used in the takeaway.

Other LED fittings aside from the AlphaLED are used at Barbecoa. Behind the bar, linear LED uplights in the shelves make them glow, and in the open seating area there are a series of galvanised steel tubes on the ceiling with an LED source in the centre of each one.

The project electrical consultant specified non- LED lighting for the kitchen hatch, where there are some dichroic downlights, and in the waiters’ stations.

In the butcher’s shop, light enhances the displays of meat

In the butcher’s shop, light enhances the displays of meat

Further energy savings are achieved with lighting controls. An Evolution system from Mode Lighting has six pre-programmed scenes. ‘Because the space is so fully glazed,’ says Rodgers, ‘we had issues with street lighting spilling into the space, so we went back to add an additional lighting scene with the downlighting over some tables switched off. The spill light from the street meant that candles provided enough light onto the tables. Our initial daylight and sunlight study proposed that decorative blinds be introduced to mitigate issues of low-angle sun in the day and streetlight spill after dark, which is something that the client is looking into.

‘We couldn’t dim the LED fittings lower than 12.5 per cent, so the solution was to switch them off.’

LEDs are not the solution to every lighting problem, but without them, it would have been significantly more difficult to meet the energy load limits for Barbecoa while maintaining the atmospheric quality required for a dining experience.


PROJECT Barbecoa Restaurant, London
CLIENT Jamie Oliver Restaurants
INTERIOR DESIGN Design Research Studio
PRINCIPAL EQUIPMENT SUPPLIERS Tom Dixon, Projection Lighting, Mode Lighting (controls)
How we brought it all together

Mark Major of Speirs + Major describes the practice’s key role as independent adviser on exterior lighting to the Olympic Delivery Authority

Another level

The answer to the energy challenge at building company Hanson’s new corporate HQ in Bedfordshire was to cut lux levels by nearly half. Richard Brass reports