Virgin Active, UK

9th June 2016

Working with a hands-on approach alongside architects Atelierdb, Hoare Lea Lighting’s scheme showcases the transformative power of the lighting designer at Virgin Active’s Walbrook Health Club in London.

Hoare Lea Lighting was commissioned by Virgin Active to provide the lighting solution for its new Walbrook Health Club in London. Virgin Active wanted to understand how a lighting designer could transform its spaces. They wished to develop its premium Collection brand and recognised the importance of the lighting working with the architecture to achieve this. “Over a number of meetings we got to know Virgin Active and they got to know us, and our understanding of an integrated, architectural approach and atmospheric appeal,’’ said Chris Fox, Senior Designer, Hoare Lea Lighting. “It was a learning experience for all and we really got into the DNA of the Virgin Active brand. It was refreshing to start from base lighting design principles and build upwards.’’

The club is located on the ground and basement floors of the Walbrook Building, a landmark development in the City of London. The 2,300m2 (24,500ft2) floorplate provides lounge facilities, a large gym floor, studios, and luxurious changing areas with access to a spa centre, incorporating a sauna, steam and salt rooms.

With a brief to adopt a fresh, integrated architectural approach, the scheme forms an important part of the visitor experience. Throughout the club, lighting details complement the high-end interior design.

“The client was keen to move the design integration forward and lighting was high on the agenda,’’ explained Fox. “We approached the design conceptually to begin with, and played up the visual contrast between the spa and main gym floor spaces. I wanted to push the difference between the muted, tranquil atmosphere of the spa and changing rooms, using low-level, low glare and warm colour temperature sources. Then pump up the visual intent of the main gym floor with bold, dynamic lines of light, and cooler colour temperatures.’’

Hoare Lea Lighting worked with architects Atelierdb to create an all-LED design, to reflect the contemporary luxury of Virgin Active’s Collection brand.

To give it prominence, the reception desk features leather clad front panels, with an integrated line of light, created by Optelma’s Firo, picking out the texture of the material. XAL’s Tula Micro narrow, cylindrical feature pendants are suspended above the desk. These provide illumination to the worktop, adding interest and breaking up the space. A feature staircase leads from the reception to the lower-ground floor, with integrated lighting adding a sense of theatre.

The changing rooms and spa are lit to a lower level than other areas of the club. This combines indirect and hidden sources, and a colour temperature of 3,000K, to create a warm, relaxing, luxurious atmosphere, which contrasts with the fresh, more dynamic 4,000K of the main gym.

Indirect sources, such as feature-point Arena Tilt wall washers and sporadic low-glare ProEvo spotlights from acdc create an atmospheric gateway to the spa.

Within the spacious changing rooms, integrated lighting elements enhance the high-end feel. These include Mini Profiles from Optelma incorporated into showers and behind the etched glass vanity units. This profile is also integrated beneath the vanity units, bathing the table tops with light, adding glamour and complementing the clean palette of grey plank tiling, marble and timber finishes.

In the main open-plan cardio and weights studio, a series of Optelma Quad linear LED profiles provide suspended lines of light. Combined with suspended disks of light provided by Optelma’s Laxa, these create a false ceiling beneath the exposed services. Recessed lines of light in the weights zone complement the main cardio area, creating a light, airy and inspiring space.

Continuing on to the walkway through the gym, the weights and mezzanine level is lit by a continuous 40m of Optelma’s Quad 55 recessed line-of-light, which turns through 90° to follow the walkway through the studio and into a corridor framed with further profiles. Within the corridor, lines-of-light run up each wall, meeting the line of light that runs across the ceiling – a visual feature that accentuates the ‘shrinking’ height of the corridor.

The lounge/café area is also lit with a warmer 3,000K colour temperature. The relaxing, hospitality feel is accentuated by integrated lighting elements. acdc’s Orelle light cove provides soft background lighting, while Deltalight’s twin gimbal spotlights pick out the café zone, and a hidden line of light highlights the coffee point.

Positioned on low tables, task lights by Louis Poulsen give member’s individual control, adding a domestic feel. acdc’s Arena small, low-glare light points highlight the picture wall, while a line of pendants provide illumination over the desks. The design of the pendants is echoed in the floor lights located in the soft seating area.

David Bell, Director, Aterlierdb commented: “The lighting design across all areas of the club enriches the functional use of each space dramatically, with darker zones helping to calm, and brighter areas with stronger fittings helping to add energy for members.’’

Tim Carter, Virgin Active Brand Director added: “The solution we developed with Hoare Lea Lighting has helped us create a luxe space that is a true oasis of exercise and wellness. It adds to the stand out experience that members can expect when they visit one of our Collection clubs.’’

Fox concluded: “It’s been exciting to work with the client and architect in such a hands-on way. It was clear that the well-considered lighting solution had made a significant difference.’’

Pic: Redshift