Scientists work with lighting from Zumtobel at the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour

Sept. 23, 2019

Zumtobel Lighting have created the perfect lighting solution for the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour at University College London (UCL), a purpose-built, state-of-the-art systems neuroscience research facility. The design of the building includes a translucent, full-height, cast-glass façade which acts as an ‘envelope’ with a high thermal performance and helps to diffuse natural white light around the building, keeping lighting costs at a minimum. This, coupled with the most energy efficient and sustainable lighting technology from Zumtobel, has contributed to compliance with Building Regulations Part L recommendations concerning lighting energy consumption and controls, dramatically reduced energy consumption and helped to achieve a BREEAM excellent rating.

The Sainsbury Wellcome Centre is a £75 million, seven-storey building bringing together world-leading scientists to investigate how brain circuits process information to create the neural representations that guide human behavior. The building can accommodate up to 150 scientists and 50 dedicated support staff, with centrally located computational laboratories spanning three floors. These are directly connected to double-height experimental laboratories on either side. Supporting these laboratory groups are a mechanical and electrical fabrication lab, spaces for social interaction, lecture and seminar rooms, a brasserie and roof terrace. Principal floor circulation routes are designed with sightlines through the entire building and interior spaces. The brasserie opens onto a wildflower garden, providing a social focus for everyone in the building.

The main lighting scheme had originally been designed around Zumtobel’s PANOS A pendants but, following discussions with Ian Ritchie Architects Limited and their lighting consultant EQ2 Light, it was decided that the best solution was to strip the luminaire right back to the bare bones. This presented Zumtobel with the challenge to develop a pendant downlight without a housing that could be installed with the cabling hidden. The product also had to be supplied in two parts (fitting and rod) and the driver had to be located remotely, away from the luminaire.

The custom PANOS pendant solution developed for the laboratories retained the pendant style of mounting and ensured original functionality. Without equal in terms of light quality and energy efficiency, the PANOS downlight luminaire family features an extensive model range that enables fantastic design freedom and increases the potential for tailor-made lighting solutions to be created.

The Sainsbury Wellcome Centre has been designed to provide an adaptable working environment for the next sixty years in order to be able to respond to the rapid evolution of the neuroscience research industry. 

About the Zumtobel Group:

The Zumtobel Group is an international lighting group and a leading player in the field of innovative lighting solutions and components. Its internationally established brands, Thorn, Tridonic and Zumtobel, and acdc offers its customers around the world a comprehensive range of products and services. In the lighting business the Group with its Thorn, Zumtobel and acdc brands is the European market leader. Tridonic plays a leading role worldwide in the manufacture of hardware and software for lighting systems (LED light sources and LED drivers, sensors and lighting management). The Zumtobel Group is based in Dornbirn in the Vorarlberg region of Austria. For further information, please visit



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