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The Piece Hall

Buro Happold

The Piece Hall, Halifax is a prestigious example of the conservation and repurposing of a heritage site to provide an accessible, cultural, and commercial realm for the local community. 

The grade 1 listed Piece Hall is the only remaining example in the UK of 18th century northern halls that were built to support the trading of ‘pieces’ woollen cloth. 

Careful integration of lighting gives this historic site illustrious night-time identity while enabling its continued role as a centre for activity and events.

The result gives this historic site presence, you can’t help be impressed as you come through the narrow perimeter openings with a series of colonnades, lit to reveal form and rhythm.

The layered lighting approach creates and emphasizes the space within the historic façade encouraging visitors to explore. 

Cool colour within the plaza and warm for the buildings works to reduce the scale of the plaza, making it more inviting; and creating a strong visual identity. 

The lighting placement enhances the depth and colour of the historic architecture while providing a safe and secure environment after dark.

The lighting design addresses the heritage brief by revealing the volume of the space, the building elevations, and materials, while on a functional level it improves accessibility and use of this historically important site at night. 

The Piece Hall is a great example of the type of space that can be created by designing for people and not light levels, at night.

Through the use of reflected light, careful detailing and a solid understanding of contrast, a unique human experience has been created. 

Parts of the space in the centre were left intentionally dark where only marker lights guide a path across the flat area of the square, proving how little light was required.

The client wanted to bring greater civic importance to the square at night. 

Through considered and careful placement, lighting has allowed the square to thrive as a relaxing, collaborative and event space at night whilst enhancing the cultural experience and social interaction. 

Known as ‘The Piece Hall effect’ it bolsters local sustainable and economic benefits capitalising on its existing historic attributes. 

This project is an example of regeneration and re-use of a public realm and building through a considered lighting approach that addresses conservation, function, environmental, social, and equitable placemaking.

The judges praised the lighting for putting people first. It gives the building a thriving second life and for makes a positive impact on the community.