The Royal Liver Building stands at the heart of Liverpool and is one of the most recognisable buildings in the city. A new sympathetic façade lighting scheme developed by Arup's team of lighting designers illuminates the iconic landmark as well as the city’s maritime heritage, helping to reconnect Liverpudlians to the history of their city.
The bespoke lighting scheme has turned the original time-piece purpose of the clock towers into a 21st century digital display that enlivens the urban environment and transforms the visitor and occupier experience. With almost 400 light fittings used across the scheme and lighting shows held throughout the year, the building has delivered a new sense of pride for the people of Liverpool and acts as a destination for locals and visitors during the hours of darkness.
400 light fittings used across the scheme
20different seasonal light shows created
Revealing the façade
To create a hierarchy that defines how lighting should be applied and focused on the façade, we mapped the key journeys and viewpoints across Liverpool and aligned this with the visual prominence of the architectural elements. Our research revealed the importance of highlighting significant elements of the façade, including the liver birds and the clock towers – fundamental to Liverpool’s maritime heritage and the city’s story.
Lighting Liverpool's heritage
Our scheme focused on using lighting to amplify the historical features of the building and to unify its four façades while creating a more engaging experience that connects residents and visitors to the city’s past. A timeless, sympathetic, white light mode provided the most dominant lighting scenario with different tones used to optimise the oxidised copper colouring of the liver birds and frame the white cupolas with a halo of light. We carefully considered the building’s many unique characteristics to create a striking visual display visible across the city.
Nearly 400 light fittings make up the lighting scheme. As a Grade I listed building, each light has been thoughtfully positioned and installed to meet planning requirements without compromising the historic building fabric. The lights have colour-changing LED modules that harness complete flexibility by accommodating different uses of colour while also minimising energy consumption. This work joins our long-standing record supporting the Liver Building, which extends back to 1976 and includes refurbishment and fire engineering projects.
A Framework for Heritage Lighting
This work was completed in line with our heritage lighting guide, which explores our approach to heritage lighting through a new methodology, helping to create vibrant, prosperous, safe and inclusive places for people to live, work and play in.Download
We were impressed with the team's considered approach to lighting a heritage building as well as their exciting concept. Arup’s lighting scheme will be one of the first of its kind in the UK, showcasing Liverpool’s spirit and hopefully setting a new trend in the approach to lighting heritage sites. ” Simon Hepple Director, CBRE
Continuing the city's story
The façade is now used as a storytelling canvas to deliver a dynamic visitor experience which uses our custom-designed daily shows to interpret different events and seasons with light. Each year the light shows are refreshed to capture any significant events in Liverpool and across the world.
The switch-on of the new scheme was a remarkable success and continues to attract Liverpudlians and visitors back to the waterfront as a desirable nocturnal location. Working alongside a local composer, Sam Crombie, we designed a one-off light show to accompany the sound piece. The show was called Flight and focused on the building waking up again, stories behind the liver birds and a celebration of the new chapter in the life of the Royal Liver Building.