Light + Tech - Light Design

Jill Entwistle takes us through some of the season’s award-winning lighting installations.

THE PERMUTATIONS that arise from the relationship between light and surface are probably infinite.

So many variables will influence the interaction between the two: the nature and texture of the surface, its colour, its degree of reflectance, and the nature and position of the light source, whether daylight, sunlight or electric light. The effect can also be mercurial. Time of day and position in the space – both object and viewer – cause light and surface to react and relate in both radical and subtle ways.

‘Sometimes walls wait calmly for the moment to reveal striking shadow patterns,’ said architect Tadao Ando, ‘and other times water reflections animate unobtrusively solid surfaces.’

The following projects were all shortlisted in the lighting category of this year’s Surface and Design Awards. They cover a wide panoply of possibilities, from the understated to the overt, from complex reflectance to the simple filigree play of light and shadow.

– The Surface Design Awards took place at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London, on 9 February.

Mycelium, Bay Street Bridge, Toronto
Lighting Design: GPI Design and Artist Nicolas Baier
Category: Exterior

The use of light – and especially light art – to transform unloved urban transit spaces or to add cachet to new ones has become increasingly widespread. Mycelium, an illuminated acrylic wall for an expansive 40m-long pedestrian bridge in downtown Toronto, is an ingenious example.

Part of the newly created office complex CIBC Square, the bridge links the Scotiabank Arena and Union Station Bus Terminal. Created by artist Nicolas Baier and realised by GPI Design, the artwork marries fine engineering and meticulously tailored lighting and detailing. A custom-designed and highly complex hidden structural system houses multiple layers of precisely machined acrylic panels with a mirror-finish back. Combined with the illumination of the panels, this produces the illusion of infinite movement and energy, and is designed to evoke the root-like structure of a fungus.

‘The work refers to mycelium,’ says Montreal-born Baier. ‘The filaments of this natural network, formed of elongated and partitioned cells, are everywhere in the ground where they can cover thousands of metres or even several square kilometres. They are earth’s biggest living organism.’

The piece suggests the Canadian city’s ‘immense and complex networks through the means of transport,’ he says. ‘They inspired the piece’s networks that evoke electrical paths, natural trees, roots or extensions of neurons. I want the piece to remind the public that the city is an immense network inhabited by humans themselves, social networks and interrelations with the entire universe.’

Various media, surface specs, layering techniques and fixture combinations were mocked up and tested before the precise effect was achieved using multiple layers of double-etched acrylic with a mirror-back finish illuminated with GPI’s Infuse LED backlighting system.

An unusual feature of the work is that it is publicly visible not only inside the footbridge, but also through the exterior glass windows opposite the feature wall, creating a dynamic visual effect for pedestrians to appreciate from both inside and out.

‘The design is the result of what we could call a “virtual self-growing network” that uses the inherent qualities of the pattern of the glass and the structure of the bridge to “grow” itself,’ says Baier. – Developer and client: Hines and Ivanhoé Cambridge

Architect: WilkinsonEyre and Adamson Associates
Additional design: EllisDon
Lighting supplier: GPI Design

M’arks Sky Bar, Eltham, London
Design And Lighting: Taner’s Sons
Category: Interior

A lounge, bar, roof terrace and co-workplace in south-east London, M’Arks Skybar is a sort of work-life space where guests can experience a stimulating co-workplace by day, and an intimate, leisure atmosphere by night.

Light plays a vital role in supporting the concept. During the day, the colour temperature mimics the natural lighting cycle outside, becoming progressively more atmospheric and introducing a more relaxing mood at night, especially in the bar area.

‘From the mini briefing workshops we held with our client, we understood early on that the space had to be versatile,’ says Taner’s Sons co-founder Mustafa Afsaroglu. ‘We produced a design concept based around intimacy, fluidity and memorability. This influenced the organic form of the bar and the rose-gold sculptures behind the bar, as well as many flowing forms used in bespoke joinery and custom lighting.’

The design of the stairs connecting the ground floor, mezzanine floor and the first floor where the bar is located underlines the theme of fluidity. ‘The custom halo lighting on the first floor helps separate these three areas and creates a visual interest from street level, attracting customers in,’ says Afsaroglu.

A sinuous LED rope light scribbles its way through the spaces forming graphic elements up the stairs and into the bar area, navigating the route through the venue’s various areas. Largely curved or circular in form, the lighting treatment throughout reflects the fluid theme. Where fittings are not visible, the lit effect is diffuse, softly defining seating areas. – Lighting suplier: Atrium (The Running Magnet, Light Shadow, Easy Kap, Bellhop Bollard, Landlord and Coordinates Wall by Flos, and Continuity by Tryka LED)

Lighting control: Casambi Technologies

The Yards, Covent Garden, London
Design And Lighting: Brimelow McSweeney and Studio-29
Category: Exterior

St Martin’s Courtyard, renamed The Yards, is one of Covent Garden’s quiet corners, a revamped retail and restaurant destination. It has three entrances, each of which has a lighting installation created by Brimelow McSweeney in collaboration with lighting designer Studio-29 (also responsible for the Coaldrops Yard exterior and the Regent Street masterplan). The aim is to draw people in to explore the hidden enclave.

‘The design intentionally creates a unique identity for the courtyard with large flower arcades and colourful canopies which can attract people away from the typical market area tourist attractions into this new location,’ says Brimelow McSweeney. ‘The restaurants have been designed with a new arcade to provide undercover alfresco dining and first-floor terrace space for the summer.

Three entrances to the courtyard have been individually treated including the 50m-long flower arcade, dichroic glass canopy and Corian-clad bay window.’

Image Credit: PHILIP VILE

This installation was inspired by Dale Chihuly glass sculptures and the way the coloured glass came to life with light. Larger-than-life flowers suspended across Slingsby Place capture the sun’s rays during the day and project light on to the pavement below. Working with Brimelow McSweeney and Studio-29, the backlit flower patterns were used in the new facade cladding and a new Corian terrace was made featuring the same motif.

This joins the two other installations. The first was the dynamic colour-change scheme to the Mercer Street passageway. Inspired by light filtering through a forest canopy and the dappling created by foliage on to the forest floor, the concept involves backlit flower perforations within three layers of a mirrored ceiling and screenprinted acrylic. This increases the volume of the space, originally just a dark concrete soffit. The interactive installation uses red, green and blue light projected through the flower petal shapes within a suspended mirrored ceiling, creating a winding path of white light. Once the beams of light are broken by people walking underneath, cyan, magenta and yellow shadows come into play.

A control system allows for a number of different scenes to create a different atmosphere depending on the time of day. To increase the dynamism, every five minutes there is an event light sequence where the red, green and blue perimeter gives a shimmering effect.

The second installation was a dichroic glass canopy that protrudes into Upper St Martin’s Lane. ‘The use of dichroic glass gave several different dimensions of colour, from the colour of the glass itself to the sun passing through from above and at night with artificial light accenting the colours,’ says Tony Rimmer, principal of Studio-29.

In addition to the entrances, lighting for the facade and terrace within the courtyard is seamlessly integrated into the building fabric, delineating its lines and accenting its features from daytime to night-time.

Lighting suppliers included Light Lab, AFX Linear LED and NJO. As well as receiving a Highly Commended in the SDAs, the entire lighting project for The Yards was also shortlisted for the [d]arc awards.

Lightplay, Royal Terrace Gardens, Torquay
Lighting Design: Michael Grubb Studio
Category: Exterior

Lightplay is a new, permanent, lit interactive route along the seafront at Torquay in Devon. The overall lighting concept, devised by Michael Grubb Studio, is designed to encourage visitors to linger longer and enjoy the gardens after sunset. The main elements are step lighting, cliff floodlighting and bespoke, artist-designed columns.

Themes from nature, particularly reflecting Torbay’s Unesco Global Geopark designation, and its exceptional geological and natural environments, were central to the creative concept.

Image Credit: MIKE MASSARO

With input from local residents, MGS collaborated with visual artist Anouk Mercier and Torquay Museum to develop the series of interactive lighting columns which line the lower pathway. The decorative themes were inspired by the museum’s collections, based on the work of founder William Pengelly, a 19th-century geologist, and marine scientist Amelia Griffiths (1768–1858). The backlit, laser-cut forms of corals, seaweed, birds and butterflies, together with integrated projections of natural motifs, form beacons and pools of light on the walkway, creating playful, dynamic punctation points.

The stairway is lit with a range of warm, bright colours, leading to a new viewing platform with impressive sea views.

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