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Historic Ann Street Church (Brisbane)

Gillard Group (Lighting Designer) | Presbyerian Church Trust (Client)

Project Overview

The heritage listed Ann Street Church opened in 1858 and has claims to being the oldest surviving Church building in continuous use in Queensland (Australia). The Church is located on a raised site opposite King George Square and the imposing Brisbane City Hall building, the seat of the Brisbane City Council. The Gillard Group lit the interior of the Church a decade ago and were invited back to light the exterior.
The city’s growth has been unkind and the Church is dwarfed by a commercial tower on one side and retail development on the other. The dark spaces between, especially on the King George Square side, provide refuge for addicts and the homeless. The tower also generates significant competing light, while the development obscures the view of the Church from the Square. In addition, heritage constraints, including that no new luminaries could touch the exterior of the building, increased design complexity.
Accordingly, the perimeter of the Church is now lit with in-ground LED up-lighters. The fixture locations, by design, illuminate the beautiful Lancet windows generally and highlight each Lancet windows cusp, specifically. The spaces inbetween the windows creates the breathing space for the interplay of light, dark and depth. The design also integrated with the landscaper’s encircling planter boxes. This collaboration hides almost all of the in-ground luminaries and lamp glare while back-lighting the plants as they mature.
Handrail LED lights illuminate the steps leading up to the main door, while a LED projector light gently back lights the stained glass Rose motif above. However, heritage constraints prevented any economical way of lighting the façade entry area elegantly. The two corners either side of the façade were bathed in soft deep sky blue light to create relief from an all-white canvass.
The entry to the King George Square side of the Church is dominated by a large period lamp post while the seats down that side are illuminated by elegant hip height bollards. Existing wall washers over side door entries and elsewhere were upgraded to LED and the light intensity reduced to harmonise with the overall soft and respectful lighting palate.
The use of low-voltage LED reduced installation and ongoing power costs and maintenance overheads. The in-ground and robust luminaries reduces the potential for damage by vandalism and ‘acts of god’ (a term used by insurance companies but possibly inappropriate for religious sites).
The Church is once again a city night attraction drawing admirers and photographers.

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