ID / Light Bureau provide specialist lighting to KPMG’s building at Canary Wharf.


October 2010 marked the final migration for staff of international award winning accountancy firm KPMG to their new headquarters 15 Canada Square, London. The move marks the end of five years planning and development for KPMG and three years intensive work for the design team which includes London based architectural lighting consultants Light Bureau.


The £340m building is now home to over 4000 members of staff, all of whom now benefit from cutting-edge lighting within their workplace.
Light Bureau were tasked with providing specialist lighting consultancy services to the 400,000 sq ft, 14 storey building, working closely with interior specialists Swanke Hayden Connell Architects and M&E engineers Aecom to develop a lighting design solution that met KPMG’s brief for permeable space with exceptionally high quality finish that reinforces brand identity and company transparency.

The architectural brief called for a building with few internal barriers and Light Bureau developed a strategy whereby lighting creates rhythm and a hierarchy of illumination which naturally renders each space permeable.“Wherever you are within the building the lighting always draws the eye through the space, towards the core” explains Light Bureau Director Paul Nulty. This sense of openness is particularly important as clients and staff mix and mingle on all floors without division.

In line with a core philosophy, Light Bureau sought to integrate lighting and architecture wherever possible, including feature elements. All pendants are sat within coffers to ensure every fixture location feels deliberate, meticulous and ‘solid’ as though they are part of the building fabric.

Light Bureau spared no effort in meeting the client’s requirement for exceptional quality and detail. Linear extruded fixtures illuminate the entire length of the core wall yet the tolerance usually expected within such long runs of linear fittings (over 50 metres) is barely perceptible. “The louvres have been fitted with special gaskets which perform three functions: they prevent light bleed, conceal flex within the luminaires and also ensure they are perfectly straight along the entire length of the core wall.” explains Project Designer Amy Weatherley, “Specially designed corner sections also ensure the fitting appears continuous around the core.” The louvres were specially adapted and painted white to ensure they ‘flash up’ like an opal diffuser to provide continuity with other fittings whilst providing higher output ratios associated with open luminaires.

The main atria are lit with linear fluorescent luminaires utilizing specially designed dropped diffusers to provide sideways illumination to the ceiling plane. They provide rhythm through the circulation zone and feature when viewed through the space. Each atrium has a stair that supports KPMG’s collaborative philosophy, linking floors and people. Light Bureau placed discreet fittings under each tread for functional reasons and also to create a sculptural element. There are a total of 9 atria within the building, providing break-out and informal meeting spaces. All are controlled by daylight sensors.

A light sculpture, located in the reception entrance lobby, enhances scale of the double height space without enclosing it as Nulty explains “We wanted to create a feature which lowered the perceived height of the void so it didn’t feel as though you were sitting in an empty volume of space whilst retaining views through from the mezzanine above.” The solution is one of the most complex structures Light Bureau has yet designed and provides a visual metaphor for the interconnectivity of KPMG’s business.

A high level of detail was fundamental to the success of the projects and this in in evidence in the presentation suite where a saw-tooth multi-functional feature ceiling incorporates luminaires and also houses services such as sprinklers and return air. The striking design is no coincidence and is a great example of the collaborative nature of the project as the staggered ceiling allows sideways light from the higher linear fluorescent luminaires to maximize the light incidental upon the ceiling. LED spotlights provide additional modeling and flexibility to the multi-purpose space.

In the staff dining space, bespoke light fixtures made from bright acrylic take inspiration from the masculine ‘Paul Smith’ style pinstripe fabric specified by Swanke Haden Connell in the seating booths. The central servery island incorporates a large ceiling feature, also developed specifically for the project housing concealed linear fluorescent sources providing a high level of daylight support lighting complimented by LED downlights for accent to the servery counter.

The level 14 client dining suite comprises large volumes for which Light Bureau designed over-size feature pendants with mains dimmable low energy lamps to fill the space with diffuse light and creating a visual statement. In conjunction with the lighting control system each dining room can feel intimate, providing a convivial dining experience and also bright and airy for general daytime use.

The lighting control system is in keeping with KPMG’s strict corporate social responsibility policy for energy conservation utilizing daylight sensing plus presence / absence detection or timeclock control to ensure energy wastage is minimized. This and other considered measures contributed to the project being awarded BREEAM Excellent rating.

KPMG’s facilities management team were very close to the project at all stages of the design and Light Bureau worked with them hard to provide an easily maintainable lighting design installation with exceptional longevity of sources. Weatherley explains – “because the scheme uses almost entirely low-energy light sources maintenance intervals will be few and far between. However, the real skill is that throughout all of the specialist areas we have only used 8 different types of lamp source, including LED’s – quite an achievement for such a large project.“

KPMG are exceptionally proud of their new building and the interior lighting goes some way to ensuring the staff have a 21st century building that will serve them for many years to come as KPMG’s Melvin Rose explains “We are very proud of our new building at 15 Canada Square. The whole design team of which Light Bureau were a key member has delivered us a best in class working environment which has met our vision to reinforce and celebrate what we stand for to our clients, our people and our industry.. The lighting solution designed by Light Bureau has provided a dynamic environment that is a pleasure to work within is easy to maintain and economical to run”.

Light Bureau’s Paul Nulty sums up ‘it is a real pleasure to have worked with a team so focused on delivering exceptional quality and with a client so enthusiastic about their building. The positivity of the client coupled with real collaboration means in many areas it’s hard to see where the interior architecture ends and the lighting starts.’

For more information visit the Light Bureau website