Case Studies


In the midst of a global pandemic, the challenge of designing a passive house in the UK was compounded by restricted site access and the necessity for virtual collaboration. Despite these hurdles, our team embarked on a journey to illuminate sustainably, focusing on energy efficiency and exquisite design. Design Associate Estefania Marquez’s case study delves into the intricacies of meeting the brief, overcoming challenges, and achieving a harmonious outcome through the combination of innovative, sustainable lighting design and products.


estefania marquez designer along with images of contemporary living room with vaulted ceiling
The Brief

The core objective was to design lighting that not only adhered to the principles of energy efficiency but also accentuated the architectural features and fostered a welcoming atmosphere. The clients, committed to energy conservation, sought a passive house that seamlessly integrated lighting control systems to preset scenes and enhance overall efficiency. Communication and collaboration became paramount, especially amidst the constraints imposed by the pandemic.

View along contemporary water feature and sculpture with uplights and lighting to the paving

Architectural features such as skylights, vaulted ceilings, and great use of glass posed unique challenges. During daylight hours, the house basked in natural light, but at night, the glass surfaces transformed into reflective barriers, necessitating strategic positioning of architectural luminaires. Overcoming this required innovative solutions such as illuminating window reveals and employing exterior lighting to extend the visual space. Limited on-site access demanded meticulous planning and precise execution to ensure every element of the design aligned with the client’s vision.


Through seamless collaboration with the clients and McLean Quinlan Architects, we brought to life a passive house that transcended expectations. The architecture seamlessly integrated with the lighting scheme, enhancing the overall ambience and functionality of the space.

contemporary seating space with slatted ceiling and glazing on to the garden and the bedroom lit beyond
Entrance, Hall, and Stairs:

The entrance, initially one of the darker spaces, is transformed into a welcoming portal with the strategic placement of lighting fixtures. Contour HD24 recessed lights beneath floating sheft cast a soft, inviting glow down the wooden slats, while Cazalla floor washers expand the sense of space and brightness. Polefinity 40s light the art throughout.

view from front door down clean cut corridor with excellent layered lighting adding to the contemporary theme

Transitioning towards the staircase, a beautiful skylight floods the area with natural light during the day. To complement this and combat the darkness at night, Cazalla and Lucca 30 fixtures provide subtle illumination, harmonizing with Contour HD24 fixtures in the wall slat detail to create a cohesive wash of light across the ceiling.

The stunning wood stairs to the basement are sympathetically lit to maximise the texture and features. Cazallas wash light across every other tread whilst Lucca 30 downlights light the series of niches with views into the gym beyond.

wooden stairs to basement with slot details and elegant floor washing details

A multi-functional gym is lit with Contour HD27 in the coffer and Polefinity 40 perimeter lights providing brighter light for an energetic workout which can be dimmed for quieter exercise.

basement gym with lit coffer and slots through to the staircase beyond

A cosy cinema and music room is lit with Vorsa 40 spotlights to light up the centre of the coffee table and highlight the guitars. Lucca 30s wash light up the curtains which conceal the musical equipment.

home cinema and music room with dark blue walls and lit guitars
Ground Floor

The open plan living, eating and kitchen has a stunning barrel vaulted ceiling. Downlights are kept to a minimum to keep the ceiling clean with lighting added to the perimeter bookcase creating a soft glow. Cazalla floor lights wash light over the step up to the seating area.

open plan living and dining area with barrel vaulted ceiling and luxury passive lighting

A sleek low hanging pendant was selected to provide task lighting over the kitchen island. This is coupled with Contour HD27 LED strip providing light above and below the kitchen units and Etta Eyelids underneath to provide task light to the kitchen surface.

contemporary kitchens with sleek lines and barrel vaulted ceiling

The master bathroom has interesting layered lighting. During the day a shadow gap above bathes the space in natural light. At night Lucca 30s uplight behind the bath emphasising its form. Contour LED strip is added to the niche above the bath and below the basin unit creating a floating effect.

sleek contemporary bathroom with uplight behind the bath

The gardens surrounding the house are all beautifully lit creating a spaces to enjoy and also extending the feeling of space inside. The water feature is lit with fibre optics within each water jet. Lucca 30s uplight the sculpture and Hampton 25s wash light onto the paving. Trees are uplight with a combination of Kew 25 and 40 spotlights.

view to garden with uplit contemporary water feature, water jets and lit paving

Navigating the challenges posed by the pandemic, our team demonstrated resilience and creativity in delivering a lighting design that not only met the brief but surpassed expectations for this exceptional architect designed home. By prioritising energy efficiency and thoughtful integration of lighting control systems, we illuminated sustainability while enhancing the architectural beauty of the passive house. As a testament to effective collaboration and innovative design, the project stands as a beacon of inspiration for future endeavours in sustainable living.

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Architects: McLean Quinlan Architects

Photography: James Balston