The brief

To provide a minimalist and flexible lighting solution which can be reconfigured for events

The Project

The Mall in London, not far from Trafalgar Square, is home to the world’s first Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). As described by director Stefan Kalmár, “The ICA was created as an institute (not a museum), for the contemporary (not just modern) and for all the arts (not just art)”.

Founded in 1947, the ICA offered a radical alternative to the Royal Academy, a place where the avant-garde were invited to engage with the pressing issues of the day; the likes of Steve McQueen was an early exhibitor and in 1976 it hosted the legendary Clash concert.

Recently the ICA embarked on their most significant refurbishment since the 1960's. The modernisation project involved redesigning the cinemas, foyer, galleries and entrance areas of the Grade I listed building, with the aim of creating twenty-first century spaces.

EPS Lighting were commissioned to design a flexible lighting solution for the institutes three galleries. Providing the right light levels to meet requirements was important, but the ‘art’ was a vital consideration. The design team had to ensure any light directed onto artwork would not have any harmful UV effects, degrading the work over time. 

White 4000K linear LED luminaires were the ideal solution to meet these objectives. Where it gets clever and flexible, is all in the control. A custom control system and interface were built to enable the circulation area lights to be left on full power, lighting to 500 lux levels to meet public lighting requirements. However, event organisers have control of all the individual luminaires on the outer edge of the gallery or indeed the full gallery if required, allowing them to play with the lights to draw focus and attention to different pieces of art as they are repositioned. The controls solution perfectly matched the galleries needs, as exhibits are rotated or changed monthly. The solution comprises a site-wide DALI control network that resides on their local LAN (Local Area Network) and also has a 24/7/365 link into EPS Lighting’s data centre for remote access, assistance with programming and upgrades with a guaranteed SLA (service level agreement) for remote management and changes if and when required.  

Russell Vanstone, Technical Director comments, “We were honoured to play a role on the refurbishment of this British cultural icon. We worked with the architects to find a clean, modern and minimalist solution to meet the design brief, achieving a stunning yet simple result which complements the ICA’s ethos.”


Lighting and control design, programming, project management: EPS Lighting

Lighting: EPS Lighting

Manufacturer: Hadler and Pharos Controls