iconic “graffiti tunnel” Leake Street Arches is illuminated by Nulty

Posted on 13 November 2017
By Khyle Deen
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Nulty, a lighting design consultancy, has recently finished work on regenerating Leake Street Arches in Waterloo, which includes lighting up 300m of street art.

Leake Street, made famous by street artist Banksy, is also known as the “graffiti tunnel”, the street connects Lower Marsh and the South Bank, it is one of London’s most popular locations for urban street art. It is one of the few legal walls in the UK that allows artists to freely express their creativity out in public. The tunnel is a haven, leaving graffiti artists worldwide to leave their mark.

Nulty worked closely with developers LCR, collaborating in an effort to showcase and celebrate the artwork, while also improving the light quality all throughout the urban space.

“It was fantastic to have the opportunity to collaborate with our local community and be part of the development of an urban space that our team know, love and use on a daily basis,” said Nulty director, Ellie Coombs.

The light is displayed as the canvas and allows the artwork to be clearly displayed and breeds creation for visual stimulation for artists as well as visitors. Three main elements were taken into consideration when it came to designing the lighting scheme: flexible space for future events, robust light fittings, and the scheme had to put the unique and ever-changing artwork at the forefront of the tunnel’s walls.

The lighting design within the tunnel features a theatrical truss suspended down the underpass. Mounted on the truss are a series of spotlights that provide gallery-quality lighting to pick up on the colourful artwork.

During the design process Nulty worked closely with Secure by Design to ensure that any light fixtures used within the tunnel could withstand wear and tear. Bespoke spotlights were designed to have an anti-glare cowl, for a more theatrical appearance, along with a secondary glass lens that can be easily removed and cleaned, should fittings be spray painted over.

Linear RGBW (red, green, blue and white) uplights were mounted on top of the truss to illuminate the arched ceiling with a wash of white light and highlight the architecture of the space. The uplights have colour-changing capabilities that can be tailored to create various moods for different events within the tunnel.

Accent lighting is provided by light fixtures that have been carefully mounted at the base of the arches, above the nearby retail units, to celebrate the curved architecture of the space.