Ceiling lighting system allows concrete soffits to be fully revealed

As healthcare design embraces sustainability and architects opt for buildings that utilise thermal mass for heating and cooling, there is a move away from the grid-and-tile solution of the conventional suspended ceiling. Manufacturer SAS International responded in January by re-packaging its System 600, an adapt-to-suit range of suspended lighting rafts that allow the concrete soffit to be fully exposed.

Architect Van Heyningen & Haward and services consultant Max Fordham took this route at the Kaleidoscope Children & Young People’s Centre in Lewisham, London, specifying System 600 for consulting rooms, offices and open-plan spaces.

“The building was predominately naturally ventilated, with a system of pipework pumping hot or cool water through the concrete soffit when the building is empty, depending on the season,” explains Max Fordham engineer Michael Cheetham.

“We wanted the soffit to be as exposed as possible. We also needed downlighting for everyday purposes, and uplighting so that the exposed ceiling wouldn’t be dark and claustrophobic, and we wanted acoustic attenuation as well.”

At Kaleidoscope, the lighting rafts integrate acoustic absorption, single or dual central luminaires, fire alarm detectors and lighting control daylight sensors.

VHH specified a gently curved profile, but architects can also design flat panels or a tighter radius. System 600 can also accommodate speaker systems and data cabling trays, and modules can also be assembled to accommodate partition walls.

The building is essentially a horseshoe of accommodation with glazed corridors around a central courtyard. To avoid positioning radiators against the glazing, the design team specified ceiling-mounted radiant heat and cooling panels from HCP, a division of SAS International around the glazed perimeter. The panels are also used in individual offices, mounted above the windows.