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Circus Street Development, Brighton, UK

Michael Grubb Studio provided a Public Realm Lighting Strategy for Brighton & Hove’s much heralded Circus Street Development. The project will see a disused area of the city centre transformed into a vibrant new social, cultural and economic quarter.

As an ever-evolving seaside resort, visitors and residences of Brighton have seen many improvements in recent years. One of the latest is the imaginative transformation of a formerly disused area of the city centre into a vibrant new social, cultural, and economic quarter.

The much-heralded Circus Street development draws inspiration from Brighton’s historic agricultural laines, as well as the urban grain of the city’s older parts. Under the ownership of regeneration specialists U+I PLC, the development benefits from the creative and inspirational approach that the company is known for.

The mixed-use site includes 142 shared ownership and private homes, 450 student accommodation bedrooms, 30,000sq.ft office space, and food, drink, and retail units. It also features the city’s first ever purpose-built dance space, which will be run by South East Dance.

Renowned architects shedkm and landscape architects J & L Gibbons were appointed to deliver the project. Working in conjunction with these two key partners, Michael Grubb Studio was brought into the project to deliver an innovative public realm lighting strategy and detail technical designs for the development.

Brighton and Hove City Council also played an important role in the success of the project as PPP partner.

With a specialism in bespoke lighting strategies and masterplans, as well as a plethora of impressive design projects, Michael Grubb Studio were able to bring their wealth of expertise to develop the powerful lighting design solution for the multi-million-pound Circus Street public realm regeneration project.

Based on the concept that lighting should be more than just visual objects, the lighting design of Circus Street sought to relate to the surrounding public realm and architecture. With three main gateways into the development, each entrance has its own catenary lighting flow system with a super-sized pendant, shaped either as a pyramid, cube or sphere. These forms, and their materiality, are directly informed by the adjacent buildings designed by shedkm and work to assist those navigating the site by day or night.

It was also important that the lighting design blends seamlessly with the landscape design that had been curated by J & L Gibbons, while complementing the bold, honest, and vibrant culture of Brighton. Exterior lighting within the site has been carefully configured and includes a balance of both horizontal and vertical illumination. The central core and main square contain layers of architectural lighting, with each complementing the other. This includes lighting of both soft and hard landscaping features, as well as surrounding building facades.

The project has been ongoing for a number of years, with the initial concept first imagined over seven years ago. With the landmark design now completed, Michael Grubb Studio has been integral to the regeneration of this previous brownfield site. Circus Street is creating over 400 new jobs and will add more than £200 million gross value to the local economy in the next 10 years.

Michael Grubb Studio’s lighting strategy at Circus Street has successfully delivered on its core ambition of creating a meaningful environment that becomes a healthy, vibrant, sustainable community model of city life. The public realm lighting strategy reinforces these core principles by supporting the needs of people, whether local residents, students or business owners operating after dark.



Scope of Works

Outline Proposals, Detailed Design & Production Information, Construction, Focusing, Programming & Commissioning

Design Team

U+I, shedkm, J&L Gibbons & Michael Grubb Studio


Brighton, UK