Castlefield Viaduct, Manchester, UK by Arup

The illumination of Castlefield Viaduct – a 330m-long railway structure that’s been transformed into an urban park – has won a Build Back Better GOLD Award in the lighting category for Arup.

The lighting design by Arup avoids bland, uniform illumination and actually downplays the use of light. Glimpses of light are designed to intrigue and entice visitors. Once inside, lighting discreetly draws visitors through, piquing their curiosity to explore further, but still allowing them to enjoy the night skyline from high level. Using gentle, warm-white light differentiates the viaduct from the urban scene and minimises impact on biodiversity, in particular bat roosts beneath the deck.

 To maintain the drama and avoid overlighting, rechargeable hand-lanterns are on offer to support accessibility and inclusivity, allowing everyone to enjoy the space. 

Luminaires styled like the overgrown grasses which inhabit the viaduct are positioned around seating benches and are preprogrammed using wireless BLE technology to glow in a gentle, random ‘swaying’ pattern to mimic the movement of nature in the breeze creating a magical experience. 

The second section incorporates unique garden areas created by local community partners. Lighting was designed to provide focus within these planters, and to be easily reconfigured by the gardeners as the foliage grows and adapts to its space. At the end of this section, the internal event space is fitted with adaptable track and spot lighting to cater for any education or hospitality event, with festoon lighting allowing functions to spill out into the gardens. 
The lighting levels are deliberately low, partly to enable the backdrop of the city to be visible through the structure but mainly to respect the flora and fauna already living on and around the viaduct. Power density for the site is less than 1W/m2.