Illuminate at The Shard, London

Thursday, 1 December, 2016

The Shard is now a well known and loved London landmark having joined the London skyline in 2012. For the second year, Woodroffe Bassett Design have been tasked with illuminating its Spire (the highest 13 levels of the building) over the festive seasons. This year’s scheme endeavors to create a dynamic beacon of light, visible across the city that seeks to figuratively ‘shine a light’ on the newly created children’s Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital.

This year the design brief was to develop a lighting scheme that celebrated the original architectural vision of the structure. Woodroffe Bassett Design’s response to this challenge was to introduce key creative constraints that would drive the lighting to feel closely related to the structure. This was to limit the design to use only varying tonnes of white light.

The lighting scheme consists of a variety of parts, not least two specially designed displays that will feature on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Aside from these, the regular scheme will be officially launched on the 12th December, seeing the lighting of the spire dynamically changing throughout the night. Additionally, the Spire will visually represent time by ‘striking’ each hour.

This year’s design is realised with the use of 343 programmable lighting fixtures - the majority using the most advanced LED technology which results in the smallest consumption of energy for an installation of its kind.

This scheme seeks to present a subtle yet bold and coherent lighting scheme that will be viewed by many thousands of Londoners and visitors throughout the festive season. The finale being the welcoming of 2017 and the Shard entering its next year as an iconic part of London.

Interesting facts about the design

  • The installation will take 21 staff 7 nights to complete.
  • Programming and commissioning will take 6 staff 6 nights to complete.
  • Total person hours for install, commissioning, operation and removal sits at 2966.
  • 343 luminaries used. 52 automated discharge source the remainder LED. 4 of the automated lighting fixtures being used are large sky tracking lights that pull 8000 watts.
  • 14 trucks for delivery and removal.
  • Approximately 16 km of power and data cable used.
  • It has been estimated that over 1000 lift moves will be required over the period of install, operation and removal.
  • No lifts between levels 78 and 87 meaning any equipment and cables used above level 78 needing to be carried by hand.
  • All equipment used needs to be waterproofed as the Spire of the Shard is open to the elements.
  • As the Spire is open, very high winds can be experienced. Subsequently all equipment must be secured down to the fabric of the building. Just under a kilometre of tethering straps have been used.
  • The Spire Lighting represents the highest light show in Western Europe. As the Shard can be seen from 40 km away the potential audience per night exceeds 9 million people!
  • Total power draw is 903 amps (69,230 watts)
  • The Spire is permanently manned while the lighting is in operation, making the operators/technicians the highest workers in London when they are on shift.

If you can't make it to London to see the installation live, watch the video from The Shard HERE.


Client - REM
Project Director - David Fisher for REM
Lighting Design - Adam Bassett for Woodroffe Bassett Design
Design Associates - John Coman & Peter Keiderling for Woodroffe Bassett Design
Lead contractor - Powermode
Specialist lighting vendor - PRG Europe