First opened to the public in 1902, the iconic lido – situated a short walking distance from central Reading – has been successfully revived after a three-year transformation process.

After decades in decline, lido pools have made a notable comeback over the past decade with numerous celebrated sites reopening to the public around the UK. The Thames Lido, located by the river in central Reading, is one of the latest and most significant contributors to this nationwide revival having been returned to active service following 43 years of disuse.

Engaged to work on the project after its refurbishment of the Clifton Lido in Bristol, architects Marshall & Kendon have successfully restored the Edwardian grandeur of the baths while adding a number of new facilities, including a function room in a fresh building to the west, and several systems – among them under-ground water tanks and a large excavated tube solar thermal array – geared towards reducing energy costs.

This winning blend of old and new is further underlined by the choice of lighting systems. Continuing its long tradition of working on major leisure-sector projects, Bristol-based specialist Connected Light was invited to specify and supply an energy-conscious, sympathetic lighting scheme capable of engendering contrasting atmospheres in different areas of the lido.

Both the Clifton and Thames lidos are owned by Swedish developer Arne Ringner, who also employed Connected Light and the same architectural practice on the Bristol redevelopment project. “We had used Connected Light previously in Bristol and were really happy with them,” says Mr Ringner, explaining the background to their involvement in the Thames Lido fitout.

For the latest project, Mr Ringer continued, “the primary objective was to provide beautiful illumination of a stunningly redeveloped site that has many interesting architectural features.”

To ensure the lido was equipped with the most suitable solution, Connected Light worked in close cooperation with Arne Ringner, Marshall & Kendon and Rodda Electrical who were the installing electrical contractors. Connected Light has worked with Rodda Electrical on many previous occasions including the Bristol Lido.

‘Sympathy and harmony’

Whilst the site has Grade II listed status, the areas that Connected Light worked on did not impact upon, or were influenced by, the listing. Instead, the Connected Light team worked only on installing lighting into newly constructed ceilings.

Although this certainly eased the progress of the project, the development process was still extended and multi-faceted, as Connected Light director Matt Holway explains: “We began to look at the site and develop our design ideas in the early months of 2016. Right from the start our emphasis was on working alongside the venue and Arne in sympathy and harmony with their teams.”

As the period set aside for installation drew closer, the specification continued to evolve, ultimately arriving upon an all-LED system involving the latest products from several different manufacturers. Meanwhile, scene setting controls made by Lutron Electronics have been supplied, in order to enable easy adjustment of settings, which include the implementation of several different atmospheres in the restaurant area during the evenings. Occupancy detectors have also been installed in some of the smaller rooms to guarantee that lights are not left on unnecessarily.

The successful implementation of LED at the Clifton Lido site meant that a next-generation lighting-oriented design was always on the cards for the Thames Lido project. “Arne and the team were aware that they could benefit from reduced energy costs by using LED luminaires and retrofits from previous positive experiences. Once again a well-controlled LED-based design has provided an ideal solution for this latest lido redevelopment,” says Matt Holway.

In addition to the energy savings – which can frequently amount to 60% in comparison to traditional fluorescents – there is also the benefit of much longer lifecyles. “With a general life expectancy of 50,000 hours, it stands to reason that LED lights will need to be replaced much less frequently, meaning that the amount spent on maintenance labour and parts will be substantially reduced,” remarks Mr Holway.

Several months on from the completion of the project, the new lighting system is performing flawlessly and allowing the lido staff to easily adjust the settings to reflect the time of day and occupancy patterns. In short, the system is proving to be the perfect complement to the exquisitely restored backdrop of the lido itself.

“I am glad to say that they are delighted by the quality of the finished installation at the Thames Lido, which is already proving to be a popular visitor attraction after its re-opening in late October,” says Matt Holway.

Last word to owner Arne Ringer, who remarks that the Connected Team lighting were “efficient and able to light up the pool, restaurant and spa beautifully.”

The Thames Lido is now open all year, 7 days a week, from 6am to 10pm. For more information, please visit www.thameslido.com, http://www.thameslido.com/eat-drink/, www.marshallandkendon.co.uk and http://connectedlight.co.uk.

Images courtesy of Andre Pattenden