Consultant Happold Lighting set out to ensure the best possible experience for athletes, spectators and broadcasters at the Olympic Stadium – the heart of the 2012 games

The 80,000 capacity Olympic Stadium, built on a 16-hectare site to the south of the Olympic Park in Stratford, was originally designed to be converted into a 25,000-seat venue after the Games. Happold Lighting worked as part of the Team Stadium design team, providing sports lighting consultancy for the venue, along with front-of-house internal lighting design, stadium enhancements and external lighting throughout the Stadium Island.

As with other venues, the sports lighting had to marry the needs of the athletes and spectators with those of the broadcasters. Engineers, architects and lighting consultants worked with each other and with the lighting equipment manufacturer to ensure that the stadium design was developed and refined to ensure optimum lighting conditions.

The 14 triangular lighting towers were designed to optimise the aiming angles, and to minimise glare and distribute light uniformly. The lighting levels and uniformity have been designed to accommodate high definition and 3D TV, and the scheme incorporates high-flux ceramic metal halide lamps.

Crossing bridges

The stadium is on an island site accessed by a series of bridges. The scale of lighting equipment decreases as visitors approach the stadium structure, maintaining a pedestrian scale and reinforcing the hierarchy of the venue when viewed from a distance. The concourse is illuminated from an array of column-mounted lighting systems, spaced on an even elliptical grid.

Each lighting system consists of indirect projectors that emit focused beams of light on to efficient reflectors. The light is asymmetrically dispersed by a deflection reflector back into the area below. Every column is a uniform, diffuse light source that minimises glare. A shield and lens system also reduces light spill from these fittings.

Each concourse lighting assembly contains two pairs of luminaires, which can be independently controlled to vary lighting levels. This not only minimises energy use but also lets the system respond to differing operational requirements.

These bespoke six-metre-tall lighting systems were developed using standard products that were modified to suit the needs of the site and to make them easy to install and maintain. The configuration and layout of equipment were carefully calculated to ensure uniformity and ease of access.

The 14 lighting towers optimise aiming angles, minimise glare and distribute light uniformly

Some elements of the outer concourse lighting scheme are designed to be temporary so that they can be removed and reused after the Games. These luminaires all contain efficient ceramic metal halide lamps that render colours accurately. The indirect lighting approach also supports security systems such as CCTV that depend on facial recognition.

The clusters of spectator amenities also have temporary lighting that is generally brighter than that for the adjacent concourse. In particular, light levels are higher in key areas such as the entry and exit gates – for both security and amenity purposes – and also to assist with wayfinding. The lighting treatments create a colourful and festive appearance. Fittings include a combination of overhead columns with direct light sources supplemented by low level and task lighting.

Following the geometry

At the stadium itself, coloured balustrade treatments have been applied to vertical surfaces to assist with wayfinding. These are highlighted by linear arrays of efficient linear fluorescent lamps with good colour rendering. The linear arrays follow the geometry of the circulation routes, stairways and structure to deliver uniform light and ensure the stadium is easily accessible, legible and inclusive to all.

Throughout the internal circulation areas and public spaces (and in the stadium bowl) a combination of fluorescent, metal halide and LED sources have been used. All have efficient optical systems and controls, ensuring that fittings are only illuminated when required. The stadium structure is exposed and celebrated. Many of the fittings used for general lighting are surface mounted or suspended and have been carefully incorporated into the stadium structure to minimise visual clutter.

The enhancement of the outer external stadium consists of lighting to the wrap and roof structure elements. This is being developed as part of the overlay design for the opening and closing ceremonies.

Key challenges

Environmental impact: the aim was to create the world’s
most sustainable Olympic stadium
Value: delivering a high-quality lit environment using functional and efficient systems
Complex shape/geometry of spaces to be illuminated: the organic shapes of Stadium Island were addressed by using layers of lights to achieve uniformity and balance of contrasts
Flexibility: to meet the needs of the venue during the Games and beyond

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