July 13, 2022

The Melville Building, Royal William Yard, Plymouth.

Project Summary:

Location: Royal William Yard, Plymouth
Sector: Office
Client: BLOCK
Architect: Gillespie Yunnie Architects
Consultant: Method Consulting
Principal Contractor: atelierBUILD
Electrical Contractor: Mets
Fit Out: Urban Splash
Value: £150k
Duration: 48 months
Size: 90,000 sq. ft
Photography: Tom Bird and BLOCK

The Royal William Yard in Plymouth is the largest collection of Grade I military buildings in Europe. Over the last few years, it has been turned into an award winning waterside destination blending the naval history with contemporary design, attracting top restaurant names, cinema, galleries and retail, making it a top visitors destination in Plymouth.


Originally built in 1826-1832 and named after the First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Melville, the grand Melville building was used as stores and offices for the Vicualling Board. Stretching over 3 floors, and overlooking the Marina, the Melville is the grandest building at the Yard.

After the redevelopment of the first 10 buildings, The Melville building was one of the last buildings left to be transformed. Dominating the Yard with its colossal size and impressive clock tower, the Melville is a true centre piece of the Royal William Yard.

The forward thinking scheme was designed by Plymouth based Gillespie Yunnie Architects and brought to life by Urban Splash.

Melville Balcony
Melville Red Door

Following our previous collaboration with Method Consulting, we have been approached by their project team with the request for lighting design in June 2020. We worked closely with Method and Gillespie Yunnie Architects and our lighting design and engineering team became an integral part of the project, turning the design concept into reality.

Our light engineers attended several site meetings with the contractor, architects and the client in Plymouth, provided product samples and technical expertise for the project.

Our linear profiles Clyde Suspended and Rio Suspended were specified by the architect to the general lighting, alongside the lighting for the entire project. We demonstrated these were capable of the task by calculating the lux levels and unified glare rating on each floor. Good quality light distribution and low glare were an absolute key for this project. The scheme was trying to achieve the UGR <19.

In total, 40 hours of lighting design in total were used to secure and support this complex project.

Melville Building General Office Lighting
Melville Work Pod


Creating a design hub with a mix of boutique retail and restaurants on the ground floor, with a more edgy warehouse style office accommodation on top two floors was the design objective. Keeping as much of the original fabric of the building intact, and bringing new contemporary features as a contrast of old and new is the signature look and feel of this development.

Melville Breakout Space Lighting

Ground Floor

The ground floor is home to names like restaurant chain Hubbox, boutique retail unites and office spaces. The offices are lit with linear lighting Rio Suspended direct/indirect. In the communal areas, the industrial looking tubular pendant Bellart Suspended was used in combination with decorative luminaires. The largest 120 mm size of the Bellart creates a strong presence in contemporary spaces. In the common areas leading to the courtyard, the Bellart was used in the surface mounted version, lending the space a strong contemporary look and feel.

Commercial Lighting for Office Buildings
Melville Offices

To keep the design consistent, the tubular shape was used again in the staircase areas- there the Nile Suspended were suspended at different heights, overlapping each other, creating a cascading effect. The smooth opal diffusers stand out against the exposed historic limestone walls.

Feature Lighting for Staircases
Lighting for Office Building CAT A
Lighting for Office Task Area
Small Office Lighting

First Floor

The first floor is a mixture of large open plan offices and smaller, independent offices. Impressive cast iron pillars and wooden beams are the signature of this Grade I listed property. Complimenting the contemporary interior design, the new linear lighting fits in beautifully with the structure of the ceiling. The main office areas are lit by the performance driven linear profile Rio Suspended, equipped with mirco prismatic diffuser. The Rio boasts a minimalist suspension kit, making the lighting appear weightless.  Following the ground floor design, the communal areas are lit by the tubular pendant Bellart Suspended. A mixture of slim 30 mm and 120 mm pendants is being used across several areas.

Feature Lighting for Heritage Building Staircase

To keep the design consistent, the tubular shape feature lighting Nile was used in all staircase areas, there the fittings were suspended, overlapping each other, creating a playful architectural feature. In the staircase areas across the entire scheme, a custom made wall mounted fitting was designed and manufactured specially for this project.

A combination of Rio Suspended Direct/Indirect and Clyde Suspended direct/-indirect was used as the main office lighting across the entire scheme.

Melville Work Pods

Second Floor

The second floor is home to the premium cinema chain the Everyman Cinema and the BLOCK gym. The large majority of the top floor space is an event space. The space boast high ceilings, original limestone walls and large windows.

Melville Event Space
Lighting for Event Spaces

In the large event spaces, on both East and West side of the building, the disk shaped suspended luminaire Talla was used to create a wow effect. Each space boasts 74 Talla Suspended in 600 mm size. Not only this makes a truly unique design, but also the lighting is very clean with no shadows.

Reception Lighting for Office Complex

On the East side of the 2nd floor, the designers used the recessed circular luminaires Segura recessed trim for an interesting ceiling feature. The fittings are equipped with microprismatic diffusers to offer comfortable lighting.

On the West side of the 2nd, floor, the designers used large ring shaped pendants Rydal Suspended.

General Office Lighting

The project was delivered over several phases throughout 2021 and 2022. The scheme uses 4000K colour temperatures to achieve a cooler white light, ideal for office space.

All office and architectural lighting was supplied in a contemporary matte black finish. The recessed lighting with a trim was supplied with a white trim. Integrated emergency lighting was supplied for the main office areas and full standalone emergency package on all other areas. In most areas, lighting was specified and supplied as touch dimmable.

The final result is a bold contemporary CAT A and CAT B scheme designed with attention to every detail, flooded with daylight. We are immensely proud to have been involved with such an ambitious project.

Project in figures:

45 Hours of Lighting Design

4 Site Visits

8 Types of Luminaire

Working on a unique or listed building project and need assistance?

Our team has the experience and expertise to help you every step of the way.

Working on a unique or listed building project and need assistance?

Our team has the experience and expertise to help you every step of the way.