How to Light a Covered Walkway

Once you start looking, covered walkways everywhere. Shopping and cinema complexes use them to link buildings. They are also common in apartment blocks, hospital sites and factory estates.

Design criteria

The main difference between the walkway and a corridor is that, being outside, a much lower illumination level can be used. Also, apart from avoiding obstacles on the ground, the “task requirements” of walking or pushing a shopping trolley are minimal. However, it is important to provide a good level of illumination on people’s faces so you can recognise them easily.

The main consideration from a design aspect is ensuring that the walkway does not appear too dark when entering it from a brightly lit interior. Some national standards only require 5 lux for purely pedestrian areas, but 50 lx, or more, seems might be more appropriate for some applications. This design achieves 50 – 100 lux on the walkway because it is in a city centre.

Providing good vertical illumination on people’s faces tends to favour using wide angle overhead luminaires rather than low level units such as bollards.  But that isn’t the only solution. Wall washing, especially if you have pale coloured surfaces, can provide a very good quality of light to the space.

PIR detectors which switch the lights one when someone approaches are sometimes used to save energy especially when there is no-one actually on the pathway. Personally, I do not like to do this because people can be wary of entering a dark pathway. A better technique is to set the luminaires to dim to a low level when no-one is around.

The walkway here is part of a retail and cinema complex and the floor to ceiling height shown is about 5.5m (18ft).

A particularly interesting aspect of this Design Clinic is that the three very different lighting effects have been produced by just one family of downlights, the DOC100 series. It is the wide choice of beam spreads and power that produces the variety.

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