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Nulty illuminates iconic ‘graffiti tunnel’

Lighting design consultancy Nulty has recently completed work on the regeneration of Leake Street Arches in Waterloo, including lighting 300m of street art.

Originally brought to fame by street artist Banksy, Leake Street, also known as the ‘graffiti tunnel’, links Lower Marsh to the South Bank and is one of London’s most popular urban street art locations. As one of the few legal walls in the UK where artists can express their creativity in public, the tunnel is a haven for graffiti artists around the world to leave their mark.

Working closely with the developers LCR, Nulty’s main objective was to highlight and celebrate the artwork, while improving the quality of the light 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.

Light serves as a canvas for the artwork to be displayed clearly as well as creating visual stimulation for both artists and visitors. When designing the lighting scheme three main elements were taken into consideration: The space had to be flexible for future events, the light fittings had to be robust and the scheme had to showcase the unique and ever-changing artwork on 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.