Woolwich Squares

Lighting for crime prevention  |  Catenary lighting  |  Driverless linear LED  |  Shortlisted: 2013 Lighting Design Awards – Exterior Lighting


Royal Borough of Greenwich


London, United Kingdom


Abacus Lighting, Bega, Insta, Philips, Reggiani


Gustafson Porter (now Gustafson Porter + Bowman)

A run down and neglected space, LAPD helped transform Woolwich Squares into a community space that locals could share and be proud to frequent.

The town of Woolwich underwent a transformation as a part of The Royal Borough of Greenwich rejuvenation scheme.  Gordon and Beresford Squares are now new spaces for the community to use throughout the year.

Woolwich Square was looking dated, and the local crime rate had risen dramatically.  Consequently, there was call for an increase in lighting levels beyond the normal codes of practice.  The resulting contrast was so high that the public were no longer keen to frequent the area.

Gordon Square remains a daytime garden, although it can be transformed and layered for different uses.  LAPD worked alongside Gustafson Porter, who designed terraces into the sloping site, leading to an event zone at the base of the square.  Here, there is also a minimalist water feature.  The result is an outdoor amphitheatre sitting under the cover of newly planted woodland.

The highways agency had embarked on a program of rejuvenation in the surrounding area using metal halide.  This gave us an opportunity to balance the lighting over the site.  Because of the limited funds for the maintenance program, LED products were a strong option.

Our concept was to enhance the trees and landscape features, while showing off every line and walkway across the site.  We aimed to change the perception of the area, creating an inviting atmosphere and a place to dwell.

We decided to use the backdrop of trees to create interesting tracery.  Casting light through the foliage cast lively shadows on the ground and created seasonal change.  Narrow beams punch through the trees, provided by clusters of LEDs on 15-metre columns.  Medium beams dapple the surrounding ground below.

  • public realm lighting: Woolwich Square

Our design intent was to enhance the square over and above the surrounding roadways.  Colour temperature played a significant part in the solution.  5000K LEDs topped the columns while 4000K delineated the paths across the square.

For pedestrian routes carved into the landscape where seating outlined walkways, we integrated continuous LED lighting into the granite lip of the seating.

To prevent vandalism, a slot 80mm high and only 25mm wide in the granite housed vandal-resistant clips.  The linear LEDs clipped into these slots, keeping them out of sight and away from vandalism.  For future maintenance, we used a plug and play system for all the linear runs, while special fixings allowed each fitting to be removed and replaced.  The main runs of linear LED were 240v, mains-fed, which negated the need for drivers.  Linear runs could be fed at one end only, running a maximum of 30m.  Fittings located near the water feature used low voltage LEDs to reduce the risk if a vandal decided to try and remove a fitting.

Beresford Square is a more functional space, with the local community hosting market stalls during the day.  In the evening, the square transforms into a ‘ballroom’ with restaurants encouraged to spill out and focus on events that use the Arsenal Gate as their backdrop.

Within this space, a catenary system cast safe ambient light levels.  Arrays of bespoke LED catenary luminaires create pools of light, enhancing the atmosphere and mood to the square.

Whilst commissioning the site, the public commented on how beautiful it was and how the project gave the squares back to the locals.

In the following year, the square became a popular destination that the community could share, with masses gathering to watch the 2012 Olympics on the large outdoor screen.

Amongst the success within the community, the project was then shortlisted for the 2013 Lighting Design Awards – Exterior Lighting.