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So where should the light switches be in our re-opened cathedral?
That is one of the questions our electrical engineers have asked. Seems simple enough, but with all the wiring being renewed – yes the cathedral is being literally re-energised - there are opportunities to rethink the positions of our distribution boards and switches to ensure they are less intrusive elements in our stone church.
Electric lighting was probably installed in the church in the early 1900s and replaced gas pillar lights. Electricians over the last century have had no option but to surface mount wiring on the stone walls and send their smallest apprentice under the floor to draw lines from one end of the building to the other.
The existing wiring is not up to current safety standards so needs to be replaced. In conjunction with areas of the church that need to be opened up for the strengthening, engineers are looking for options to conceal the new wiring lines. With the roofing slates being removed some wires will definitely use an aerial route and with flooring being lifted in areas for new foundations, the sub floor route will be much easier.
There is still the tricky bit of up the walls. And what sort of lights will we have in our new cathedral? That is exactly what I have been discussing with our architects and electrical engineer. You can be sure that the existing fluorescents and their harsh white light will be gone.
We want a lighting design that is flexible enough to add to the mood of a celebratory occasion or contemplative worship as well as emphasising the architectural features of the building. Modern technology opens up exciting possibilities for programmeable lighting sequences that can respond to differing situations and user requirements. Additionally LED bulbs mean the dangerous job of changing light bulbs at height is not something you need to do for many years.
Other details being thought about are changed acoustic conditions in the cathedral. The plywood layer being added above the timber ceiling sarking will close up many gaps through which we previously saw peeks of sky. This will actually improve the clarity of unamplified organ music and singing so that is an unexpected bonus of the earthquake works. The new protective glass layer that will replace the metal screens over the stained glass will also lessen the low frequency traffic noise that is currently audible in the cathedral, so again that is a positive outcome.
Over the next few months, lots of details like these will be worked though with the team of consultants as they complete the documents for the project. The commitment is to have those documents ready for building to be able to start by mid 2019. What is needed to ensure it does, is your support. Keep up the fundraising efforts- our cathedral is waiting.