Energy efficient feature lighting extends the season at historic UK visitor attraction
Marl has announced the completion of a £100,000 project to install feature LED lighting at The Alnwick Garden, one of the UK's top visitor attractions adjoining Alnwick Castle, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland.
The Alnwick Garden is a public attraction founded by the Duchess of Northumberland and the new LED lighting is the first phase of Sparkle, a new permanent lighting installation conceived by the Duchess herself. The £100,000 project completed by Marl is specifically designed to focus on the central area of the garden, the Hornbeam Arbours and the Grand Cascade, which are the most prominent features when visitors first enter the garden. There is also lighting all the way up the central part of the garden from the steps, through to the dramatic archway at the very top of the garden, which can just be seen from the Pavilion area, about 200m away.
The Duchess of Northumberland commented: "Phase one of Sparkle has transformed dark evenings into a stunning spectacle of light and colour. The Alnwick Garden was designed 17 years ago with lighting in mind. When I saw the original drawings I immediately recognised the huge opportunity for a dynamic lighting programme. This is the first phase of a permanent, flexible installation which will bring the garden to life in the evenings and during the winter months. It will be magical at Christmas and the lights can be enjoyed from The Pavilion without needing to go outside."
She continued, "LED was the only viable light source for the illumination needed to interpret my long standing vision for the lighting scheme. Marl LED technology is highly reliable, offers full intelligent control over individual lighting fixtures and is both energy efficient and environmentally friendly when compared with traditional light sources."
Commenting on her decision to appoint Marl, the Duchess added, "Following my visit to Marl in July 2012, I could see that they were an exceptional company. Not every engineering company has a collection of six grand pianos on site! I was impressed by their capability, expertise and approach. The enthusiasm, energy and creativity of its young team was inspiring, and the fact that they are located together on a single site convinced me that they would work together effectively to realise this very complicated project. They have more than fulfilled that promise. On 24th November the system was ready to be switched on, less than five months after that initial visit, and took just six weeks to install."
The Duchess concluded, "I believe that when the lighting programme has been completed, visitors will come to Alnwick to see the lights during the shoulder months which will benefit not just The Alnwick Garden but also the town of Alnwick and other service providers. This first phase is stunning and I have worked closely with the specialists, Marl International, to ensure it matches my expectations."
Adrian Rawlinson, Managing Director of Marl International, said, "The Duchess of Northumberland visited Marl Business Park in Ulverston in July 2012, and offered us the chance to demonstrate our capability to provide a fully controlled lighting system. Marl can design and manufacture new LED lighting products entirely in-house. Marl has the benefit of over 100 committed, clever and resourceful team players to draw on to get on with the delivery of the project – and it is fair to say that everyone was totally committed to this project from Day One. We were extremely excited to be offered this unique brief to design a dynamic, powerful light scheme, for this exceptional situation."
The Duchess needed a lighting system that is extremely flexible to meet all the different requirements to support activities within the garden, providing lighting that might add a touch of magic and sparkle, whilst remaining stylish. Sparkle phase one was funded by a generous silent donation from a US Trustee of the Garden and took just six weeks to install.
Marl International supplied and controlled the whole of phase one of the Sparkle installation, excluding the electrical ground work required for the installation. This included over 90 individual light fittings, the hardware cabinets, mains and DMX cabling, IT communications systems, software control, design of the lighting scheme, installation, programming, commissioning and will also now provide on-going support for the team at The Alnwick Garden. To create the effects the Duchess sought, Marl designed and manufactured five new products consisting of special 6m, RGB flexible strips, specifically to maximise performance in this type of large scale outdoor lighting application. Marl added high performance RGB floodlights, customised 'Orion' blue linear strip lights, white up-lighters and step lights. The custom lighting hardware was designed, manufactured and assembled by Marl at its manufacturing facility in Ulverston. Suitable standard fittings to complement them were sourced by Marl where available, modified and integrated into the whole system.
The brief also called for a number of pre-set programmes in order to demonstrate total capability of the system, and to provide a wide variety of lighting styles including mood lighting for special events. Marl integrated its hardware with 'Colour-Tramp' DMX based software control, provided by London based Artistic Licence, acknowledged industry experts. 'Colour-Tramp' allows the user to literally 'paint with coloured light', record and then play back a programme of lighting control sequences. Sparkle has a 60 colour lighting programme enabling literally millions of possible lighting combinations, allowing for unique corporate events, themed wedding parties tailored to the bride and groom, as well as a magical evening experience for all visitors.
The Alnwick Garden Sparkle lighting installation relies entirely on LED lighting technology. According to Rawlinson, "The Marl lighting system at The Alnwick Garden has been configured using white and RGB fixtures in such a way that conventional white flood and task lighting is not required. Existing conventional flood lights in place were removed, as they were no longer needed and ruined the effect."
Commenting on the environmental impact of the system, he continued, "It is hard to quantify how much energy would be needed to power a similar system built using other technologies, but as a general rule an architectural LED system comprising of RGB fixtures and associated hardware and electronic control will save between 20% and 50%, but it can be more. For example, LEDs can be switched on and off instantly, which allows them to be controlled using pre-set timers or to respond to many types of sensors, creating further opportunities to save power."
About The Alnwick Garden
With a Poison Garden, the world's largest tree house and a bamboo labyrinth to make your head spin, it is these unconventional designs which have seen The Alnwick Garden rise as one of the UKs most popular attractions. Sparkle is a new development targeting the after dark market, which the Duchess hopes will extend the season for the attraction into the winter months.
Alnwick Castle is one of the largest inhabited castles in Europe and has been home to the Duke of Northumberland's family, the Percys, for over 700 years.