As part of a major restoration and refurbishment project, Sea Life Brighton has created a colour changing display using Philips ColorBlast Powercore LED fixtures. Use of LED lighting also supports the company’s commitment to sustainability by reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.

The dominant architectural feature of Sea Life Brighton is a stunning underground arcade, reminiscent of a gothic cathedral, that passes between the exhibits. However, until recently the arcade had painted surfaces and stark white lighting that did little to enhance the visitor experience.

During the winter of 2011/12 the walls and ceilings were stripped back to display the original stonework and masonry and the new LED lighting was installed. “We wanted to merge the beauty and history of this Grade II listed Victorian structure with modern technology to bring it up to date without losing sight of the architectural legacy,” explained Sea Life Centre manager Max Leviston.

“Initially we were going to use white lighting but this would have been too harsh and would have shown some of the blemishes in the stonework too clearly. Then I saw the colour changing LEDs used on the London Eye for the New Year’s Eve celebrations and realised we could use something similar,” he added.

This led to discussions with Mico Lighting, which supplied the lighting for the project. Mico’s Fiona Thomson recalled, “Max was very clear about the effect he wanted to achieve but wasn’t sure how to go about it. It was clear that only LED lighting would be able to provide the required versatility and we were able to recommend the Philips ColorBlast system, which has also been used on other Merlin attractions, including the London Eye.”

The ColorBlast fittings are used to create a rolling wave of colour along the length of the arcade. Initial thoughts were to use just blue and green to simulate the oceans but trials showed that a wider range of colours enhanced the displays by continually changing their appearance. The ColorBlast fittings are supplemented by Vaya LED floodlights above some of the tanks.

Leviston concluded, “We are delighted with the final result. From the initial ‘wow’ factor as visitors first come in, to the changing effects as they walk through the arcade, the lighting has transformed the arcade and received very positive feedback from staff and visitors alike.”