Brasenose Chapel

Sensitive illumination  |  All-LED scheme  |  Bespoke candleholders  |  Integrated LED


Brasenose College




iGuzzini, Ecosense, Mike Stoane Lighting, Concord, Flos, Reggiani


Architainment, Atrium, iGuzzini


Berman Guedes Stretton


2016 FX Awards finalist - Lighting design

"Complex, sensitive and beautiful, the lighting of this listed Chapel delivers remarkable ease-of-use, creating a cutting edge multi-use space that retains the candlelit charm of its roots."

Berman Guedes Stretton requested LAPD’s assistance to transform the Chapel at Brasenose College in Oxford.

Brasenose College Chapel resides within a Grade II Listed building.  It comprises an entrance cloister, ante-chapel and main chapel.  The existing, outdated lighting had failed entirely in many cases, making the entire premises look tired and unloved.  Furthermore, it lacked the versatility that the Chaplain and the College required.  Accordingly, we developed an all-new lighting package for these multi-use spaces.

Beginning at the entrance cloister, we revolutionised the lit environment.  Previously, two uplights had cast cold, narrow beams on to the barrel-vaulted ceiling.  This resulted in hot spots on the ceiling and very little light reaching the floor or steps to the ante-chapel.  Meanwhile, the memorial plaques and decorative carvings on the walls were left in darkness.  Bringing out the warmth of the stone was important.  So, we chose a colour temperature of 3000K prior to the luminaire selection.

Concealing linear LED strips on the stonework above eye-level proved to be impossible, due to English Heritage constraints.  Therefore, uniform lighting of the barrel vault from a hidden source was no longer an option.  So, slim cabling fed a new array of small adjustable LED spotlights.  The spotlights cast light on to the floor, steps, memorial and artwork on the walls, making the cloister attractive and appealing.  It now forms an appropriate entry into the ante-chapel beyond.

The brief for the ante-chapel requested several different stages.  Lighting of the war memorial and new uplighting to the walls was included.  Dedicated lighting for a music performance space was of particular importance to the College.  An advanced yet effortless control system would allow for several different scenes.

Here, it was possible to conceal LED strip on top of the existing wood panelling.  As a result, the ante-chapel benefited from a clean, even uplight on the walls.  The LED strip, selected for its output, also cast light up to the stunning decorative ceiling.

A new three-circuit track, installed on the organ loft, allowed for flexible lighting of key parts of the ante-chapel.  LED spotlights with adjustable beam angles put accurately controlled light on to the piano and performance space.  LED framing projectors, fitted to the same track and precisely adjusted, make the war memorial stand out.  Consequently, a perfectly focused light enhances the entire plaque and seeks to honour those names listed upon it.

The control panel for the entire scheme is housed in the ante-chapel.  Crucial to its success is its silent running.  This is due to the ante-chapel’s use as the setting for the recording of music recitals and performances.  While the panel itself is state-of-the-art, the interface features only 6 buttons.  This gives the Chaplain easy access to each required scene.

architectural lighting design: Brasenose College Chapel interior

The main chapel is the undoubted showpiece of the project.  It is designed to bring the chapel into the 21st century while simultaneously returning it to its classical beginnings.  The scheme conceals cutting edge technology within the existing fabric of the building while improving on the previous lit environment in every way.

To make the space more welcoming, the walls have been uplit with high power LED strip.  This provides ample ambient lighting for the whole chapel.  Installed alongside the LED strip, adjustable narrow beam LED floodlights make the beautiful ceiling glow. Both luminaire installations are invisible to the congregation.

Two LED projectors, mounted high on the wooden structure above the pews, light the altar. With a bespoke bronze finish, these projectors blend into their surroundings.  On-board dimming and adjustable beam angles allow for easy adjustment to the lighting on the altar and the reredos.

An identical LED projector, mounted invisibly into an aperture in the ceiling, gives glare-free light to the Chaplain’s lectern in the centre of the aisle.

Improving the way the bookstands in front of the pews were lit formed a critical part of the scheme.  Prior to our design, miniature standard lamps lit the bookstands and blocked views of the aisle and altar.  The bookstands now feature all-new bespoke candleholders with integrated LED technology.  Milled from solid aluminium with a wet-sprayed phosphor bronze finish, the candleholders showcase clean aesthetics and precision manufacture.  They house elegant oil-filled candles within a beautiful glass cylinder.  Two small LEDs with flush lenses sit below the glass, mounted into the body of the candleholder at an angle to eliminate glare.  These illuminate the bookstands with much more light than in the previous scheme.  Achieved without interference to the fabric of the bookstands, the new candleholders ensure uninterrupted views across the chapel while providing incredible ambiance and functionality.

Throughout the project, our goal was to be faithful to fabric of the building and to enhance its use, while providing the highest possible quality of light. Now an all-LED scheme combining with all of the drama and ambiance of candlelight, Brasenose showcases the ultimate in chapel lighting.