Rochdale Touchstones
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Rochdale Arts & Heritage Centre – Touchstones

From 1998 to 2002 we worked with Rochdale metropolitan district council and Nigel Simpkins Design on this Heritage Lottery funded project consisted of the refurbishment of an existing Victorian building in Rochdale. The new facilities consist of a new museum, local history resource centre, education studio, Tourist information centre and an improved entrance hall.


This was a very interesting space – tall with strong structural form and wide open spaces. The main lighting uses pairs of taught wires stretched across the width of each bay on which are hung adjustable, low-voltage spotlights on gimbals. This allowed us to move the lights about to spotlight any exhibit or display whilst avoiding heavy lighting structures that would have limited the view of the high ceiling areas. There are additional spotlights built into canopies and structures that cover some of the exhibits display areas.

Nigel Simpkins Design created many different forms of special showcase, including some recessed into the floor. We advised on ways to light these such that the exhibits could be well lit from unobtrusive positions within the showcases. All use fibre-optic systems with the projectors in accessible locations for maintenance.

Local history resources centre

This tall space was to be used for a local history library and resources centre. At one end was a balcony for office use by the staff. The lighting solution was to run continuous direct/indirect fluorescent luminaires across the width of the space to provide good illumination down into the library space as well as lighting up the high ceiling void to avoid it appearing gloomy on dark afternoons. Below the balcony a series of recessed, circular, low-energy fluorescent luminaires are used to provide lighting for archive viewers and office tasks.

Education centre

This is a large open hall where performances as well as educational activities can be arranged. The lighting consists of both a simple dimmable, fluorescent lighting arrangement for educational use and an arrangement of theatrical lighting barrels carrying a range of adjustable spot and flood theatre lanterns for performance use. We designed the Show dimming and control system to be useable by visiting amateurs as well as semi-professional groups.

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