Our project story

Heathrow T2A.

London, UK


Ideas taking flight.

Jonathan Rush, Partner at Hoare Lea

Project Lead:
Jonathan Rush

Lighting London’s busiest airport.
Creating a calm passenger experience.

Challenge accepted.

Creating calm passenger experiences in airports is a major challenge given their typically crowded, often stressful reputation.

Designing a major new terminal for Heathrow, one of the busiest airports in the world, without disrupting airport operations was a challenge that required expertise from across our firm’s many specialisms.

For our Lighting Design team in particular, it was the biggest and most complex project to-date…

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It’s uncommon for daylight design to be included in the early stages of large infrastructure projects like Heathrow. The opportunity to demonstrate its value was incredibly exciting.
Juan Ferrari, Senior Associate, Lighting Design

Creating a lighting journey.

Clever lighting is vital when it comes to a vast complex development like Heathrow T2A. The most important aspect of the initial design was for the natural light to work efficiently and aesthetically. Learning from the 2008 Terminal 5 project, the team analysed passenger circulation patterns and plotted them into the fabric of the building. This allowed for the journey around the terminal to become intuitive and simple, and inform the lighting design strategy accordingly.
  • Client: Heathrow Airport Limited
  • Architect: Luis Vidal + Architects

Getting everyone on board.

Understanding that all parties needed to believe in the solutions proposed, our Lighting Design team demonstrated their strategies to the wider team and client, supported by in-depth technical analysis, testing, and mock-ups of how daylight would penetrate the terminal’s roof. The whole process was fascinating. We even generated daylight renders that allowed the architect to create a scale model of the terminal that could even be taken to an artificial sky to test!
Technical Impact

Aiming for switch off.

The daylight penetration at departure level drastically minimised the artificial lighting needed to well below the team’s target levels. There is no better solution to reduce power consumption than to be able to switch the artificial lights off. The carefully considered roof design allows daylight, and not too much heat, into the terminal in an elegant way. With the addition of the translucent fabric wing, the light is diffused and softened, creating a truly calm atmosphere.
Human Impact

A stunning setting.

The lighting design contributed to serene and stunning experience for Heathrow passengers. By maximising the connection with outside, the design bathes people in natural light during the day, and brings a touch of glamour come darkness. The bright and airy spaces help to create a stress-free transit through the terminal. And this experience has not gone unnoticed: Heathrow Terminal 2 was named the World's Best Airport Terminal at the 2018 Skytrax Awards – a result that speaks for itself.
The kind of collaborative design process we took on Heathrow brings about the best results. When passionate designers work together, the results are always exemplary.
Key Figures
5000 tonne roof structure
40.5% less carbon dioxide emissions than old terminal - BREEAM Excellent
16.5 million passengers in 2017
180,000m² Terminal building

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This is testament to the hard work our team has done to transform Heathrow for the better.
Ross Baker, Heathrow Chief Commercial Officer
Jonathan Rush, Partner at Hoare Lea

Project Lead:
Jonathan Rush