Published on: August 6, 2009
Light Bureau from London sent us their project Cardiff Bay. The parking garage buildings tend to leave us with bland facades. Cardiff Bay project shows us how bland can quickly become blank canvas for a innovative lighting design.
More info from Light Bureau follows:
Multi-storey car parks are not typically regarded with landmark potential, however Plot 5 at Cardiff Bay tells an entirely different story. In October 2005, lighting design consultancy Light Bureau was asked to create a feature facade for this multi storey car park that would highlight the entrance point of such a significant regeneration development. A task far removed from the standard functional lighting of a car park.
This was a unique project that brought with it a wide range of challenges. Namely, to create a lighting effect on an otherwise mundane structure, not overwhelming adjacent structures, including the Welsh Assembly building, and to work with the physical constraints of such a complex faĂ§ade form on a large scale.
Architects Scott Brownrigg originally approached Light Bureau with the concept of a perforated aluminium structure which would attach to the face of the new multi story car-park. Through the complexity of this suggested construction process and due to budget constraints, Light Bureau recommended involving Base Structures on the project who, as an alternative, proposed constructing a main steel framework.
The architectural concept of the wave like form was intended to evoke the spirit of the bay area, communicating the movement of the water.Â The lighting concept response was to achieve a striking night-time effect reflecting the movement of the sea in the bay immediately behind the structure, creating visual impact, whilst not undermining or distracting from the importance of the site.
The sail structure of the car park consisted of many undulations across an overall span of approximately 125 metres, and combined with complex structural support system meant that an even wash of light was almost impossible. Each sail section weaved in, following the contours of the facade, whilst at the same time raising and lowering itself in certain sections according to which part of the structure it was positioned in. The only option was to front-light the perforated sail structure whilst balancing with the functional lighting to the interior of the car park behind.
Budget was too restricted to use LED sources, thus a more economical, low-tech alternative was sought.Â To preserve the desire to create a dynamic faĂ§ade, Light Bureau chose to investigate a dual lamp solution, eventually settling on fluorescent technology.Â The structure is in an exposed situation and Light Bureau recognised that this may create thermal operational issues for fluorescent lamps, especially in mid winter and when dimming the sources to create the dynamic effect; fluorescent lamp sources tend to âdrop outâ when dimming in cold weather conditions. By conducting in-depth research and lighting calculations, older but thermally more robust T8 lamp technology was used.Â To extract as much light in the desired direction as possible, twin reflector luminaires from Norka were selected, calculating the appropriate beam angle of the luminaire as well as the optimum aiming angle depending on varying distance from the sail structure, each placed on a special bracket precisely placed so that they followed the contours of the sail structure, thus avoiding views of the lamps from the roadway or glare from within the car park. Each luminaire incorporates a separate blue and white T8 lamp in its own reflector and each fitting uses 2 separate DALI ballasts to achieve the degree of control necessitated by the concept.
The entire system is operated via an astronomical time clock based on a DMX protocol interfaced with DALI ballasts.Â The system ignites the lamps one hour before sunset each day, allowing the lamps to warm up before the dynamic cycle starts. The lamps âwarm-downâ for half an hour at 11pm each night.Â These precautions have ensured the successful operation of the installation by greatly reducing thermal stress, thus extending the longevity of the lamps.
Paul Traynor, Principal, Light Bureau, commented:
âCardiff Bay represents a challenging but ultimately rewarding project. Through marrying the high tech with the low tech, the scheme sees 480 lamps individually digitally operated with a unique control system, thereby producing a unique, superior lighting solution.â
The premise of the design is relatively simple, which belies the extent of research and proving which took place to arrive at the final solution.Â The solution is an effective, visually striking scheme that overcomes a wide range of challenges, balancing lighting with local conditions so no buildings overly dominate any adjacent structures, whilst also attracting major interest from the adjacent highway.
Note of the editor:
Please note the copyright of these images is retained by Light Bureau and the photographer James Newton. Use of those images is subject to them being used for this article only. Publication of any image in any form or fashion must include a credit for both Light Bureau and the photographer.
Posted by: LuÄka Slatner