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Timber Lighting Columns

Specialist Installation Project

Bournemouth Borough Council’s £4 million phase one regeneration of Pier Approach kick-starts a long term programme of regeneration for the whole seafront identified in its Seafront Strategy. The Pier Approach project ‘virtually’ re-connects the Bourne stream and Lower Gardens with the seafront for the first time in more than 100 years.

One of the key components of the project has been the introduction of new low-energy interactive lighting, which aims to encourage locals and visitors to remain at the Pier until later in the evening, rather than venturing into the town centre. Bournemouth Council also anticipates that the project will encourage additional private investment in the area and create more local tourism jobs. The tourism industry in Bournemouth currently employs more than 11,000 people and is estimated to be worth a staggering £462 million.


Visitors to Pier Approach will soon be able to enjoy impressive water features and striking landscape improvements, which will represent the history and geology of the area. A new visitor information kiosk will be available for tourists and the whole area will become a vibrant space both day and night. The new, low energy lighting installations aim to encourage visitors to stay in the area after dark, by creating an inviting atmosphere with colourful displays. The area will also be an exceptional location for the Bournemouth Air, Wheels and Arts by the Sea festivals.


A key part of Bournemouth Borough Council’s new lighting installation at Pier Approach is the lit timber columns with architectural lighting features. The installation was contracted to Urbis Schréder by Lowe and Oliver, a sub-contractor to principal contractor Willmott Dixons. Urbis Schréder provided 2 x 25 metre timber columns and 14 x 7 metre timber columns. A first of their kind in the UK, the lit timber columns have been designed, supplied and installed by Urbis Schréder in conjunction with lighting designer and architect Michael Grubb Studios.


The first stage of the process involved the full assembly of every column, including fitting all the back boards and all the light fittings onto the column. The specialist team of ten engineers brought together all the manufactured and third party components and assembled the columns in full at the Urbis Schréder factory.


The factory acceptance test, where each column’s functionality is checked to ensure it is exactly what was specified before it goes on site, also involved checking the digital multiplex (DMX) system that controls the colour changing lighting installations.


The installation process was complex and required a dynamic approach. Urbis Schréder took a new approach to installing the innovative timber lighting columns for Bournemouth City Council, for the first time deploying a dedicated team to install the specialist equipment. One of the unique aspects of the Urbis Schréder specialist installation team is that each individual is accredited by the Highways Electrical Association (HEA) and holds an Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) card, as well as having a specific ‘occupation’ within the project (for example installation operative or electrical engineer). Currently, Urbis Schréder is the only lighting company offering a fully qualified team to install bespoke specialist projects.


Ten specialist engineers carried out the installation in Bournemouth and all columns were installed within a week. The process involved a variety of specialist activities, including the use of a 40 ton crane with a 30 metre jib to put the 25 metre columns in place. Due to the previously laid expensive granite pavestones imported from China, all the machinery needed non-marking tyres and the risk assessment was a lengthy and complex process.


When the timber columns were installed, but before they were connected together, a further local acceptance test was carried out. Each column was checked individually to ensure correct functionality and that there had been no damage during the transit or installation. When all of the surrounding infrastructure had been completely installed, the full systems acceptance test was then carried out to check the columns functioned when networked together and that the lighting displays, themes and colours could be controlled accordingly. Pre-assembly in the factory is the best approach for this, as assembling on site can lead to errors in the process.


Andrew Emery, Resort Development & Strategic Planning Manager, Bournemouth Tourism, oversaw the installation and commented, "The fully qualified team of specialist engineers meant the installation process was a resounding success."





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