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Architectural Lighting Design Listed Buildings Flats Exterior Landscape Nulty

Baylis Old School, London

Lessons in lighting

Some people can’t wait to leave school. Others end up making a home in one. Step forward Lilian Baylis: a Brutalist-style Grade II listed secondary school brought back from the brink as an award-winning residential community.

Conversions and new builds sit alongside intertwined courtyards, landscaped gardens, squares and passages giving the site its distinctive character. The exterior lighting scheme helps people navigate the intricate space: interlinking long stark walls have been washed with light; features, including a reflection pool, water fountains and planting, subtly illuminated. Yet, we avoided utilising columns and bollards – these often require overtly visible light sources and one thing we don’t like is visual clutter.

The retro 1960s structures are full of stark contours, textures and tones, and this is where the power of light really comes into play. By gently emphasising the exterior surfaces with concealed lights, creating ample ambient illumination, we were able to reveal and accentuate the architecture’s honesty and boldness, but also make the space feel calm, safe and welcoming. And, it’s all rather celestial thanks to an astronomical time clock that activates the lighting throughout the year.

The flexible, energy-efficient lighting scheme for this one-off project is about celebrating and letting the architecture do all the talking, but then, who’d challenge a Brutalist?

Images: © James French


Using light to tell the story of the buildings, celebrating the architecture, helping bring life and energy back to the former school yards.

— Paul Nulty


We came to Nulty because we needed to add a dynamic and responsive lighting scheme, to ensure that the award-winning Brutalist architecture remained inviting and exciting after dark. The team intuitively understood our needs and the result is extraordinary.

— Suze Jones, Henley Homes

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