by Joachim Ritter
The ‘digital world’ and ‘media facades’ still tend to count more as buzz words than terms to describe a trend that has become a standard part of the architectural landscape. That said, architecture is about to be faced with a design boom (and I don’t mean a trendy website). It is pretty clear that media screens are going to have a serious impact on lighting design, if not become an elementary part of it. The rhythmic illumination of a series of columns across a facade will soon be attributed to an era that is close to coming to an end.
Many designers still fail to understand how media elements will affect architectural design. We should certainly stop referring only to media walls. Media surfaces can comprise ceilings, floors, walls and stand-alone installations. I suppose we could resort to films like ‘Bladerunner’ for inspiration. But the new real world has come a long way since the science-fiction interpretations of the 1980s. The architecture of tomorrow is not likely to be reverting to paradigms related to the Bladerunner era. Architecture today is already organic and integrative. Architects no longer appear to be subject to any restrictions worth mentioning, and media surfaces can be woven into practically any structural design. Visual content, interaction design and programming will gain in significance and become the main focus of the design, leaving the structural engineering to take care of itself.
The design for a shopping centre in Dongfeng, China for Hanhai Real Estate provides a lot of food for thought. The project has little to do with what we understand by a shopping mall today and looks more like a 3D rendering of an urban district. The overall structure provides the framework for shopping, hanging out in cafés, some green spaces and a water element. Natural elements have been included wherever possible. Grassed areas can be found on different floors.
The design draws inspiration from Classical Chinese “Treasure Bowl/Cornucopia”, a special container symbolizing auspiciousness and happiness. It has set out to create a vibrant yet intimate “urban container”, a public setting that embraces all kinds of social activities, generates immersive experience–a celebration of cultural and geographic openness and diversity. The overall result is an interconnected community grounded in tradition but poised for the future.
Interior landscape is another feature of the design. Zhengzhou is among the country’s top ten most- polluted cities. To raise the citizen’s awareness on environmental protection and aid in the creation of a microclimate for visitors, the design adopt both horizontal and vertical greening into the building. The roof garden, together with visible indoor green spaces to the street level pedestrians, proposes a new alternative for enhancing the condition of the urban environment, while maximizing landscape efficiency.
The fountain plaza and canal on the 5th level, together with a vertical aquarium, introduce the element of water, a symbol of life into the building. The elevated fountain plaza, functions as a community gather place, will be the largest of its kind in China. Visitors can experience the water promenade through a gondola tour along the canal or take a breathtaking ride in the glass elevator through the aquarium. Various theme restaurants are scattered around the theme of water. All of which create an unprecedented experiences for local citizens of Zhengzhou, a northern city with dry climate, giving the building the highest degree of originality.
The huge integral media surfaces focus on the theme of water and our fascination with it. A gigantic arch spans the central arena, creating the iconic image and providing an omnipresent backdrop. The screens display dynamic images of waterfalls, aquarium life, and of course also advertising …Which brings us back to the world of science fiction and the inherent literature and movies.
Once built, Dongfeng City will become the new urban landmark, a powerful catalyst that giving the district a new lease on life.
And again we can pose the question: how far away are we from such visions? And again we can determine: we have long crossed the threshold to the Media Age, and these massive media surfaces can actually no longer be termed a ‘vision’. In Las Vegas they have had a huge, moving semi-circular media wall displaying videos of a catwalk surrounding one of the new plazas for a number of years now. And what is possible in North America, is definitely not impossible for China – more of an incentive, I would say.
Visualisations: Hanai Real Estate
Vincent van Gogh Foundation renovates mansion in Arles, France to create a modern art gallery dedicated to Van Gogh.
by Joachim Ritter
Photos: Hervé Hôte, Fluor Architecture
Any self-respecting journalist has a hard job dealing with new terminology. I had some trouble accepting the trendy German neologism “geflasht”, which is basically used in the context of music appreciation (rock music and the like), and in English would most likely be translated using words like “dig” or “amazed” or “knocked out” – which don’t sound particularly new in English, I have to admit! Anyway, today I had an experience where the only word that came to mind to describe what I felt was “geflasht”. I was viewing some images of a project that immediately rendered me “geflasht”, spellbound, completely overwhelmed. Formerly, people would have used words like “astounding” or “beautiful” or “aesthetically convincing”. But they would not be enough to do justice to this project. There are apparently projects being designed and realised today that give rise to, or justify the use of, linguistic developments. Modern architecture and modern lighting philosophies have succeeded in coaxing it out of me. I am – there’s no other word for it – “geflasht”.
The project that caught my attention (see, that sounds so weak …) is owned by the Van Gogh Foundation in Arles/F, the heart of an area the master loved to paint. It comprises the 15th-century Hôtel Léautaud de Donines, a stone mansion off the Place du Forum in the centre of Arles, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been transformed into a 1,000 square metre modern gallery. The complete renovation of the former private mansion in Arles responds to the Foundation’s desire to bring a contemporary perspective to the work of Vincent van Gogh. A highly original artistic approach has been applied to summon the genius of Van Gogh through the works of 20th and 21st-century artists. The technical specifications demanded by the most prestigious museums had to be met, and the renovation work and extension were to reflect (literally) another major feature of the location, the special light in Arles, which was so dear to Van Gogh.
The architectural project tapped into the core of the Foundation’s artistic mission: to create a series of exchanges. Starting with conversations between Van Gogh (absent in body but present in spirit through the light and the location) and the artists: those who are a part of the collection, those invited to exhibit, and those artists who have created works in harmony with the building: Bertrand Lavier with his sliding entrance wall, Raphael Hefti with his coloured glass sculpture on the roof of the bookshop, and Fritz Hauser, who created the stairwell.
Natural light guides visitors through the reorganised exhibition spaces. As the visitor passes through the gallery, he experiences colourful projections on the immaculate walls of the reception area and gift shop, generated by the glass roof above the entrance in the courtyard. Skylight openings in the large exhibition hall relay the effects generated by the structure on the rooftop terrace, which consists of 20 shed roofs arranged in five rows of three, each oriented according to the path of the sun. And then there is the direct daylight from the open sky on the cascading terraces which are arranged to sketch out a variety of landscapes.
The Foundation was created in 1983 with the mission to preserve the works of Van Gogh and to present their importance in arts through the ages. The project described here has been nominated for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2015.
Client: Fondation Vincent van Gogh d’Arles
Architects: Fluor Architecture – Guillaume Avenard and Hervé Schneider
Daylight consultant: Ingelux Consultants
Lighting design: Wonderfulight
Artists whose works are integrated into the architecture: Raphael Hefti, Bertrand Lavier, Fritz Hauser.
by Joachim Ritter
Over the last few months we have seen an increasing number of interesting developments within leading companies in the lighting sector, which in turn make for a clear indication of change in the market as a whole. Such occurrences are frequently interpreted as being negative, especially if the changes applied inherently incur changes in job requirements, or to be more direct: workforce reductions. And yet in principle all the modifications or changes currently taking place are in some way linked to adjusting to lighting in the digital age. In other words, nothing more or less than consistent development. And again we are confronted with yet another milestone along the way, which is due to come into effect as of 1. January, 2015…
In the end it is all a question of perception. In this case, too, we could talk at length as to whether this date is to mark the start of a new era, or the conclusion to a nine-year process which entailed moving away from conventional lighting instruments and towards 100 per cent digital lighting, which is reflected in the range of products lighting manufacturers are currently launching – or in part already offering.
Anyway … the international lighting industry is shaped to a large extent by German manufacturers, who are represented by the ZVEI, the German Electrical and Electronics Industry Association. According to the ZVEI, in 2014 the percentage of sales of digital lighting products is estimated at between 30 and 40 per cent. But at least one of the traditional manufacturers is expecting a percentage nearer 80 per cent over the same period of time. Which can only mean that the New Year is likely to kick-off with a bang – or at least with the official announcement that the first traditional lighting manufacturer has opted to cease producing conventional lighting solutions altogether and will be focussing exclusively on digital light. What does that mean for a manufacturer?
Well, if the manufacturer intends to keep consistently to the corporate policy of maintaining their leading position as a supplier of first-class products, digital lighting technology enables them to perform the entire production process in-house – apart from manufacturing the LEDs, of course. To date, conventional manufacturing processes have meant that ballasts, lamps and reflectors were supplied from sources external to the company. But given the new, dramatically compact manufacturing processes required for products based on digital light, electronics or high-quality lens manufacture can be handled cost-effectively on the company’s own responsibility. That is to say: no more HIT or reflector deliveries, no ballasts or other components from external suppliers. Quality manufacturing in-house – another way of ensuring that manufacturers can stand their own on a market that is renowned for its keen competition. The suppliers are no longer the same sources that all competitors use. Qualities and developments are defined by an individual company and remain that company’s property and responsibility.
It was only a question of time when the first manufacturer of conventional luminaires in specific market segments would opt to stop producing conventional lighting equipment. 2016 is a further milestone in the process to ban the incandescent lamp, and the tungsten halogen lamp. The fact that conventional lighting solutions are part of the history books a year before the politically approved deadline shows just how dynamic developments in the field of digital lighting are, and what design scope they offer. With hindsight, it was actually not really necessary to “ban the bulb”, because the arguments pro digital lighting solutions have become so overwhelming. Nobody in the professional field talks about compact fluorescent lamps any more. And if the ban had never happened, we would at least have been able to use incandescent lamps for sentimental reasons in historic luminaires without having to fear prosecution.
by Alison Ritter
It recently came to my notice that a TV commercial promoting the sale of chocolate to kiddies was actually based on a famous experiment carried out in the late 1960’s at Stanford University in California, one of the world’s most revered research institutions. The experiment was called The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control. Children of kindergarten age were sat at a table with a small toy – or a marshmallow – on it and told that they would be left alone in the room for a few moments. If they refrained from touching (or eating) the “object of desire” they would be rewarded with a second toy/marshmallow.
So what is this about? Self-control? The power of endurance? Or just about being patient? Sayings such as “good things come to those who wait” spring to mind, and we are always being told that “patience is a virtue”. But why? Why do we have to be patient if we can get what we want right away? We can source just about any information we need to know on the Internet. We can order clothes, books, entertainment products online and have them delivered the next day. And we can send back what we don’t want, or things we ordered without truly thinking about it. Wow! Is that progress – based on anti-patience?
Whatever field of work you are in, there will be times when you have to rustle up all your strength to be patient. Impatient people are often regarded as being insensitive or even arrogant. They come across as impulsive people who are likely to be poor decision-makers. Such people are unlikely to end up in leadership positions.
To return to the Marshmallow Test: this experiment was, of course, in the context of evolutionary psychology and cognitive neuroscience, where patience is studied as a decision-making problem, involving the choice of either a small reward in the short term, or a more valuable reward in the long term. Apparently, when given a choice, all animals – humans included – tend to favour short term rewards over long term rewards. In the Stanford experiment, the researchers were able to indicate that the children who showed self-control did better in school, had fewer problems with overweight or drugs, and were by far more successful professionally. Needless to say, in the TV commercial I mentioned above, the children succumbed to the temptation, because the goodies were simply too hard to resist.
It is hard to resist what appears to be a rewarding offer. We are faced with such offers on a daily basis, from buy-one-get-one-free at supermarkets (generally low or average quality commodities) to a plethora of profession-related offers we are encouraged not to refuse – courses, conferences, seminars, workshops that all promise to “enlighten” us. The right choice should be related to quality. Impulsive decisions may be ones we regret.
After the last PLDC in 2013 in Copenhagen, attendees left the venue informed, inspired and positively impatient. “What are we going to do until the next PLDC?” was a question frequently heard. Well, it’s still a year to go, but it will be worth waiting for.
by Joachim Ritter
Developments in the field of LED technology have apparently indeed caused something of a stir within society. People can now use this technology in their own surroundings. But still the LED technology seems to be like a revolution.
Some time ago an old friend contacted me and asked me to help him out. We have known each other since our school days. That was admittedly 27 years ago, although the last time I saw him was at a reunion two years back. He remembered that at the time I told him that my work had something to do with lighting. He is an aquarium enthusiast, that is to say someone who enjoys observing fish behind glass – preferably when they are in large glass tanks. There’s nothing wrong in that. On the contrary, I tend to find it quite calming myself.
Anyway, he came to me and asked me if I could help him “acquire” a replacement lamp for his aquarium. He presumed I had good connections, and since we have known each other a few years, and were quite close as kids, thought I wouldn’t mind coming to the rescue, so to speak. “Sure,” I said. “I know who makes lamps…”. I didn’t get a chance to say much more, because he was already describing exactly what he needed. He talked about Kelvin and that this was an indication of how bright the lamp was. The higher the Kelvin, the brighter the light, but not blue, thank you very much. And I was to make sure there was no ballast or starter in the LED lamp. But it had to be an LED lamp because they consumed less electricity.
It was pretty clear that he had got a few things muddled up, but he certainly wasn’t willing to admit it. As a salesman he did not want to betray any weak points. To be on the safe side he had brought along the lamp that needed replacing. “But that’s an LED lamp,” I blurted out. „How come it’s not working. They are supposed to last for 30,000 hours”. That would have meant around ten years. According to my friend, he had only had the lamp for about three and a half years.
“Really?” he remarked. “At any rate, I want it to look like natural light”.
I was about to say something and then realised that if I embarked on further discussions it would have caused tension between us. So I simply replied: “Leave it to me. I’ll let you know”.
Three days later I took two new LED lamps over to his house. He was thrilled. How kind it was of me and that it is really unusual for someone to go out of their way to help old friends. “No problem,” I said “My pleasure”. “What do I owe you?” he asked. “38 euros,” I replied. “Post and packing, eh?!” he smiled, and reached for his wallet…
My friend was very grateful, paid the money and reminded me that I could always count on him if I needed help. In the following months many people told me how well my old friend spoke of me and a number of my friends went out of their way to tell me I only had to give them a wink if I needed anything. I received numerous invitations to parties and my network of friends grew unremittingly. On Facebook and Twitter people waxed lyrical about my heroic deeds, claiming that people of my calibre are few and far between.
On Facebook someone even suggested I should be awarded honorary citizenship by my hometown.
Life suddenly became so pleasant and easy. I must admit it did become hard to find free days when I could meet friends and relations or attend fundraising dinners, and I survived practically exclusively on the ample buffets available. I also began to notice that the ladies had a different look in their eye when they looked my way.
A few months later I met a true friend of mine. He drove over to visit me and we spent some time together. We avoid using Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch, preferring the phone or direct contact. I told him what I had experienced over the last months and he listened patiently. When I had finished he asked: “Tell me, where did you get those lamps from that brought you so much fame and recognition?
“The lamps? Oh, I went to a pet shop just round the corner from here and bought the lamps literally off the shelf. They had loads of them, especially for saltwater aquariums”.
What is the moral of this tale? A true friend is one who can listen and does not rely on social networks.
And finding lighting solutions is sometimes easier that it seems.
To be continiued.
by Joachim Ritter
I would like to raise two questions.
First: Do you believe in the future?
From my experience this first question will be answered with YES.
Of course, we are optimists.
The second question: Do you know what the future will look like?
Oops: Despite the fact that we believe in the future, we don’t seem to be able to say exactly what the future will look like. Wouldn’t it make sense if we were able to make educated decisions to ensure that the future will be OK? It should not be so much about believing in the future, but knowing what to expect. And if there are problems we need to face, then we have to be prepared to solve them.
Basically, the future is in our hands and it is up to us to make something out of it. If we take a closer look at the lighting world and the inherent technical developments, the possibilities right now are immense:
– we can save energy and create better structures to save the planet by using the latest technology or daylight design
– at the same time we can create better designs for the environments we as humans like to use
– we now know more about the effect of lighting on the human being and can apply this information purposefully when designing.
So what or who is stopping us from creating a better world? Nobody!
Maybe we still need more know-how in order to be sure we are doing the right thing. Maybe we need more experience to reduce the number of errors we are likely to make. Maybe we need to exchange more with colleagues to pinpoint the best possible option. And we need confidence to move forward with conviction and clear messages.
But it is clear that all of these things are up to each one of us personally. It is up to every individual to accept responsibility and develop relevant skills. And this will also be your own advantage.
Jim Rohn, entrepreneur and motivational speaker, once said: “Formal education will make you a living, self-education will make you a fortune!”
So the creators of the future and drivers of development are for sure the ones who make more than just a living out of their lives.
Following you will see the facade design of the Casino in Bregenz. Compare the colours of the nature and of the facades…
Media facades on the Casino in Bregenz/A
Last Friday marked another milestone in the build-up to the next PLDC in Rome. At the close of the Call for Papers we had received nearly 250 submissions. These reached us as follows:
– 30 between 1st September and 11th November
– 43 on 12th November
– 53 on 13th November
– 120 on Friday, 14th November, with 80 coming in between 18.00 and 23.00 CET
This shows that last-minute work is still part of our day-to-day life, all possible thanks to the digital world we live in.
The number of submissions is again a new record in the history of PLDC. We have received proposals from lighting designers, researchers, architects and public and private clients. Submissions came in from all over the world.
Each paper proposal will be blind-reviewed and evaluated by three experts from the field. Our Paper Selection Committee comprises 15 experienced lighting designers, architects, educators and researchers from twelve different countries around the world. They will be reading the abstracts, assessing the proposals according to strict guidelines, and providing comments.
The Steering Committee will base the conference programme on the Paper Selection Committee’s assessments and recommendations. Everyone who submitted a paper will be informed in February whether or not their paper has been selected for PLDC 2015.
The programme is planned to be published at the beginning of March 2015.
In the coming three months we will also fix the Keynote Speakers and finalise the rest of the programme around the four conference tracks. Further activities at PLDC will include excursions, moderated discussions, Experience Rooms, the final round of the student speakers’ competition The Challenge, and other surprises.
Interest in PLDC has risen again compared to the 2013 edition in Copenhagen. To date we have registered a growth in page impressions on the PLDC site of more than 100 per cent.
We will keep you updated on all developments.
Your team of PLDC organisers.
Skyline of Dubai will change a lot in the coming years. 400 more hotels planned.
by Joachim Ritter
In and around the United Arab Emirates, and in particular in Dubai, they are on the brink of a new building boom. If one is to believe what could be heard off-the-record at Light Middle East, in the coming years they are planning to build another 400 hotels in Dubai alone. The number is not a typing error! There are two reasons for this: the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and Expo 2020 in Dubai. Many of the large expanses of land available for building will be dedicated to Expo 2020, of course. But this is not about the kind of scale we are accustomed to from former world exhibitions. We are talking about dimensions for buildings that make sense on a Burj Khalifa scale. The future is definitely beginning to look brighter after the abrupt building freeze as a result of the economic crisis.
Not surprising, therefore, that Light Middle East made effort to give the fair an additional push this year, given that its image had suffered somewhat over the last few years. And it would appear they are off to a reasonably good start.
In this context, there are two issues that deserve a more explicit mention. The first one concerns the market and how satisfied clients and users are with the quality of lighting products. Martin Valentine, lighting designer und Coordinator for Public Lighting in Abu Dhabi, gave a talk about the forthcoming stipulations for the specification of products for application in the public realm. Manufacturers who do not adhere to these requirements in advance will have little chance of competing on the market in future. It is interesting to see that when it comes to quality the bar has been raised substantially – much higher than what the industry initially imposed. As a client, Abu Dhabi has made no secret as to what their expectations are to the industry. What the lighting industry has not managed to accomplish of their own accord has now been put upon them in the form of an initiative from clients. And there are many other clients in the region who are more than happy to go along with this.
On behalf of his employer, and with his know-how and experience as a professional lighting designer, Martin Valentine has rung in a new era in the Middle East. Many clients see to be tired of always having to sort out replacement deliveries and claims for damages when specified LED products do not work under specific conditions, such as in extremely hot climates. And they are obviously now experienced and competent enough not to believe everything the manufacturers’ reps tell them, or even what designers claim to be the truth and nothing but the truth. Lighting designers who do not have sufficient know-how or skills to bear the responsibility for their realised concepts are going to have a tough time of it in future.
The second point is that the lighting industry in the Middle East is becoming more structured. The Middle East Lighting Association (MELA) is a federation of manufacturers who have formed a common front in order to be able to address the new stipulations in a professional manner. The association has been active for a year now and is now a member of the Global Lighting Organisation.
In addition to those two developments, it can be observed that the lighting professionals in the Middle East have now discovered that they do actually exist as a community. The 150 lighting designers and architects working in established firms in the Middle East who gathered at the recent PLDC 2015 warm-up and party, which was staged in Dubai in close collaboration with iGuzzini, document this to a tee. This, in effect, means that the region has taken a significant step towards gaining more recognition within the international context. As the initiators of PLDC and organisers of the associated warm-up events – in Dubai with our Diamond Partner iGuzzini – we have to admit that are proud to have provided the framework for this to happen. The group of lighting professionals from the Middle East who will be attending PLDC 2015 in Rome will be of a substantial size and therefore in a position to provide considerable input in the way of new experience in the field.
by Joachim Ritter
A countdown blog thrives on the milestones it establishes – which is why today is a special day. Starting from today, it is less than a year before the fifth PLDC in Rome opens its doors. Eleven months, four weeks and one day – or 364 days – of anticipation and excitement lie before us. But not to worry! In the coming months we will be staging a number of warm-up events around the world to alleviate the agony of waiting.
Following the kick-off event and party in Frankfurt on the occasion of Light+Building with almost 500 lighting designers (the Coelux launch) and the mini-conference in Istanbul two weeks ago with 250 attendees, our next PLDC warm-up will take place on 4. November in Dubai, where the Consul General of Italy in Dubai will be welcoming us at a special breakfast meeting, together with Iyad Alsaka, Architect and Partner at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, OMA, who will be giving a short presentation on Urbanisation and Lighting. And whoever is attending the Light Middle East fair and will still be in Dubai on the evening of 5. November can conclude the day with us in party mood. The warm-up in Dubai is an event organised together with our PLDC Diamond Partner iGuzzini. Register here.
A further PLDC warm-up will be held in Monza/I. We will be linking this with the practical workshop we are organising there on “Lighting Historic Art”.
On behalf of the team of organisers working on PLDC 2015 in Rome, we are proud to announce that the general framework for the convention is fixed and we are now working on concrete details to prepare for the event. What we can already promise is that the convention will be a highly interesting and informative event with a number of surprises in store for you over the coming months. The programme for Rome has been expanded and improved to offer even more opportunities for attendees to learn and network. If you are considering responding to the Call for Papers for PLDC 2015, please note that the deadline for submissions is 14. November, 2014. This deadline will not be prolonged. www.pld-c.com.
Compared to previous editions, we can already say that the interest in PLDC 2015 has increased. Over the last few months we have recorded 100 per cent more page impressions vis-à-vis the same point in time two years ago. We regard this interest as confirmation of the path PLDC 2015 has taken, combined with our commitment to create a programme that incorporates only the latest information and findings that affect the lighting design industry.
In the coming weeks we will be communicating more information about programme contents and the latest developments. Feel free to send us your input and comments.
Rome, of course, has a lot to offer both before and after PLDC. It is one of those places that you have to have visited at least once in your lifetime. Historically speaking, it is a must to see the Pantheon, or the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums, the lighting for which was recently redesigned by Prof. Marco Frascarolo from Fabertechnica and realised in collaboration with Osram, or from the point of view of contemporary architecture the MAXXI Museum designed by Zaha Hadid, or Rome’s new conference centre, the “Nuvola” [“Cloud”], designed by Massimiliano Fuksas, which is due to be completed by autumn 2015.
Look forward to PLDC 2015 in Rome and be sure to mark the dates in your diary: 28.-31.October, 2015.
Darkness does not affect your anatomy.
by Joachim Ritter
Science can make mistakes too. The time has come to bury a myth that many of us have carried with us since our childhood. Parents are always warning their children not to read in the dark for fear of damaging their eyes. This argument no longer holds water.
Today we know that reading in low light does absolutely no harm to our eyes and does not impact the anatomy of the eye in any way. It can be strenuous, of course, and cause eye fatigue. And those of us who insisted on reading under the bed covers, certainly noticed a difference in alertness the following day – although more because we were engrossed in a book we couldn’t put down and were therefore suffering from lack of sleep.
And low light also does not provoke the need to start wearing glasses. That would be a bit too simple, because conversely it would also mean it would be possible to improve your eyesight by exposing yourself to ultra-bright light.
And there is further evidence to back this “discovery” up. The probably most well known owl in the lighting industry, who we know from iGuzzini’s advertising campaigns back in the nineties, would doubtless be blind by now for having worn sunglasses for so long…