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Designer and designer’s work

London is about to throw a lot of money into the Thames

Comment by Joachim Ritter

See the complete results and shortlisted works here.

At the risk of not being allowed to cross British borders in future, I simply cannot hold back my open and honest opinion, which many people will no doubt share anyway. The Brexit referendum was already a fiasco, but it seems we are in for an even greater fiasco if you look at what is being considered as the winning lighting schemes for London’s bridges over the Thames. Whoever dared to believe “it won’t be that bad” is in for a shock. The jury is destined to fail collectively when selecting “the winners”!

A few months ago, experts from the field pointed out that a lighting design competition involving significant prize money and focussing on a project of the calibre of London’s bridges over the Thames should not take place without including a representative number of qualified lighting designers in the jury. And yet all this advice achieved was to invite a few lighting professionals to take part in the preliminary review of the submissions. I am not sure if Speirs & Major, for example, had any influence on the jury’s decisions through their part as preliminary reviewers. To be honest, I can’t imagine it. It simply doesn’t fit into the philosophy of this world-renowned practice to allow a river of the standing of the Thames to be so maltreated by light. And I also find it hard to believe that the shortlisted designs were selected from more than one hundred submissions from 20 different countries. If these are supposed to be typical of the status of the quality of lighting projects in this day and age, then we are taking a dramatic step backwards. I cannot believe that. This is an insult to the professional lighting design community and can only mean that some of the approaches taken have nothing to do with lighting design. On closer inspection of the submissions and the jury, I can only come to the conclusion that the outcome is due to ignorance as to how lighting design is defined. The results are not representative of good lighting design – which is pretty inconceivable when you consider that jury members apparently included the likes of James Turrell.

Defining searchlights as a design element for the City of London and describing this as a way of saluting the night is really not on. It is an open attack on the darkness of the night. This was a topic for discussion some time ago, and should be considered as resolved. To even refer to this approach as “Synchronizing the City: Its Natural and Urban Rhythms” is nothing less than insensitive. I will refrain from going any deeper on searchlights and their link to military operations. Sorry: this was really the wrong choice, and does not fulfil the actual task, which was to illuminate the bridges, some of which are definitely architecturally interesting. Why were the inherent qualities of the bridges themselves not sufficient for the team to focus on? Was it really necessary to salute anything?!


“Blurry Boundaries”: London Bridge wallpapered in light. The structure is nothing more than an object that can deliver a surface for a blurry concept, ultimately termed “invisible ripples”. The latter were rendered visible with all the might and main that light can possibly impose. What happened to the respect for the architecture and engineering? And for the way the bridge is designed to function? Lighting design is not a fashion issue. Waterloo Bridge has received a kind of art nouveau treatment, becoming a decorative element in its own right that dissolves the bridge and, if realised, would force the bridge to adopt a secondary role. Inacceptable. Westminster Bridge incorporates the most promising approach. Digital, a discreet reference to history, and with an interesting time component touch. The design concept that sets this bridge apart unfortunately leaves one questioning what on earth the idea behind the Chelsea Bridge concept was. The colour design is apparently arbitrary – certainly not based on a clear concept. What has this to do with blending in with the urban environment? Master plan – no chance. Overall appraisal of the team: instead of a clear concept, Blurring Boundaries marks the escape from design to art, which is hard to take lying down.

The concept for “Current” is at least based on the idea of a master plan, which is good for a start. And it has been realised in a consistent manner. Unfortunately, it only works on paper and in drawings. In reality, from the human perspective the bridges come across as a series of blotches of colour. Nothing seems to be related to anything else; there are no references to enable anyone to recognise an overall concept. The work therefore loses any sense of meaning and ends up an unexciting mystery. It’s only Westminster Bridge that appears to be more human-oriented and accessible, because the historical essence remains intact.  Interesting! And Chelsea Bridge is acceptable, to say the least.


“Thames Nocturne”. In the case of this design the meaningfulness of light has not been addressed at all. What is the intention? To cover the Thames in lightwaves? Design approach aside, this concept smacks of armchair reasoning. It is absurd to even believe that this could ever be realised. Every beginner in the lighting design world knows that light is only visible when it is reflected by a surface. But summer nights are dry – no humidity to speak of, no visible light! What about the boats on the Thames – they would interrupt the light, wouldn’t they? And there doesn’t seem to be an end to the belt of light. Is someone going to stop it at some point? Including this in the shortlist is nothing less than embarrassing for the jury!

“River Ain’t Too Much To Light”. At least some thought appears to have been put into this one. Realised by creating lighting effects on the bridges. Of course, anything is possible, but gobos, quite honestly, are a bit superficial for this kind of application! It’s difficult to fathom what exactly the designers wanted to realise here. Maybe the architectural design of the bridges differs too greatly to draw any comparisons. As a consequence, Chelsea Bridge is way too bright. And planting street lanterns in the river is truly a “do without”. Good way of saving energy, I suppose!

1-c-mrc-and-les-eclairagistes-associes“The Eternal Story of the River Thames”. A concept with a meaning at any rate. The Thames breathing through light. The embankments are lit depending on the water level of the river. If it is possible to ensure the lighting is designed to be relatively discreet, this could indeed lead to an interesting and good outcome. In this concept, the bridges play a modest but crucial role. Not as a colourful festival-like backdrop, just bridges lit in white light. If the designers opt for the right colour temperature, this could also be developed to become a good solution. Care needs to be taken with regard to flora and fauna when realising such a project. The designers and the client may need to reach a number of compromises.

Perhaps the result of this competition is an indication of the fact that light festivals and light art can indeed hamper the development of good lighting solutions in the public realm. The results are to a large extent nothing more than a chance for the designers to draw attention to themselves and how versatile they can be with light. Some of the concepts submitted treat the architecture as if it were of secondary importance. That has little to do with lighting design.

See the complete results and shortlisted works here.

(c) Malcolm Reading Consultants and Adjaye Associates
(c) Malcolm Reading Consultants and AL_A
(c) Malcolm Reading Consultants and Diller Scofidio + Renfro
(c) Malcolm Reading Consultants and Leo Villareal and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands
(c) Malcolm Reading Consultants and Les Éclairagistes Associés
(c) Malcolm Reading Consultants and Sam Jacob Studio and Simon Heijdens

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Iconic building

The new Harvey Nichols concept store at The Mailbox, Birmingham, is at the heart of the iconic Mailbox building and has been purposely created to offer 45,000 square feet of luxurious retail space. By totally transforming the retail environment using cutting edge technology and purposefully designed ambient lighting, the store now offers a more sophisticated shopping experience.

small HarveyNichols-03This state-of-the-art retail facility has become the blueprint for future Harvey Nichols stores. The lighting was designed by PJC Light Studio Limited, London, who homed in on two of the most prestigious of our fittings to be used in a wide range of areas across the store, including womenswear, menswear, perfumery, lingerie and shoe departments.  Over 800 large YORI luminaires incorporating  30W LEDs were selected in black, mounted onto existing tracks and placed within black channels to blend seamlessly with the dark ceiling design. Equipped with a narrow-beam reflector and a cross-blade louvre to eliminate glare, the YORI luminaire offers precise illumination that is ideal for accentuating merchandise areas and can easily be adjusted for more defined lighting control.

Small HarveyNichols-09Fabio Cristini, lighting designer at PJC commented: “With challenging ceiling heights of 4.2 metres in particular areas of the store, it was imperative to ensure we had a good delivery of lumen output and a wide range of beam angles to allow us to create the right ambience for these areas. Reggiani’s YORI fitting is also aesthetically pleasing – another important consideration.  The performance of the YORI is very good and the use of the cross-blade louvre accessory was invaluable for this high-end retail project”.

PJC specified the large YORI luminaire in white for the lingerie and swimwear department with the fittings, once again, mounted on existing tracks but within white ceiling slots against a white ceiling to create a very different style for this part of the store.

small HarveyNichols-05The extended and luxurious changing-room space for the new store utilises round Trybeca recessed luminaires equipped with 8W LEDs. The Trybeca fitting complements the opulent design of the very spacious changing area and harmonises well with the existing, relaxing surroundings, whilst providing excellent quality light – an absolute imperative for superior changing-room for discerning shoppers.

small HarveyNichols-08

Project name: Harvey Nichols, Birmingham
Date: 2015
Location: Birmingham, UK
Lighting design concept: PJC Light Studio Limited – Fabio Cristini
Lighting specification and design: PJC Light Studio Limited
Electrical contractor: Sparkhill Electrical Ltdsmall HarveyNichols-24

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About Pompeii… or what remains of it

A large-scale exhibition project developed to recount the fascination that the archaeological site of Pompeii held for artists and the European imagination, from the start of excavations in 1748 to its dramatic bombing in 1943. This is “Pompeii and Europe. 1748 – 1943”, an exhibition open to the public from 27 May to 2 November 2015 at the National Museum of Archaeology in Naples and simultaneously at the Amphitheatre in Pompeii, with the patronage of Expo Milano 2015.

Sponsored by the Soprintendenza Speciale per Pompei, Ercolano e Stabia and by the Management of the Grande Progetto Pompei, in collaboration with the National Museum of Archaeology in Naples, the exhibition – organised by Electa with installation by Francesco Venezia – is structured as a true journey, grand and complex, in which Antiquity enters into a dialogue with Modernity, and nature with the arts and archaeology.

The exhibition is divided into four chronological sections containing works of various types: paintings, drawings, collections of prints, architectural plans, photographs, sculptures, objects, books and more.

The variety of items on display and the artists involved show how Pompeii, with its buried ruins and its classicism, has fascinated artists from all over Europe for nearly two hundred years, from Ingres to Picasso, Normand to Le Corbusier, Moreau to De Chirico.

The dual exhibition venue features two separate lighting concepts, different but at the same time complementary.

The design for the Naples site centres upon the concept of “working on memory”, using light to showcase objects thematically linked to each other but made centuries apart.

In order to bring together this highly heterogeneous display, the illumination of each piece must be similar but perceivably different, using the “vibrated light” technique. Vibrated light involves alternating different light beams using two 3000K light sources with different spectrums, dimmed individually.

The constantly changing light spectrum in the environment is perceived by the human eye but is not visible on the painted surface of the works; it therefore appears as a continuous vibration.Axonometrie 1

The vibration is appreciable if there are other illuminated surfaces within the space, stable by contrast, which act as a comparative element, bringing out the vibrated light system.
For this project, 10 Watt track-mounted Yori LED projectors were chosen, featuring a special cone louvre with 3 beam widths: 12°, 15° and 20°.

The precise adjustability of the projectors allows for optimum positioning which minimises any bouncing of the luminance caused by the multiple glass elements present.

The Pompeii installation features a different concept: whilst in Naples the visitor experience does not take in the totality of the setting at first glance, in Pompeii the light immediately draws the eye to the spectacular architecture of the space as a whole.

The main problem with the round geometry of the setting was controlling the luminous flux output. To remedy this, special brackets were created to allow the Linea Luce Slim LED linear System used to be directly mounted on the arch of the dome.

The consistency between the two lighting designs ultimately lies in the role of the natural light, which is integrated, in both cases, with solutions selected to reduce energy consumption.

Client: Naples National Museum of Archaeology
Location: Naples – Pompeii
Lighting Design: Consuline
Architect: Francesco Venezia
Blog Pompei e l'Europa - Foto di A. Jemolo 012 Photos: di A. Jemolo

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Characters in the lighting industry: Rogier van der Heide

by Joachim Ritter

It is often the characters circulating in a particular industry that give it its inimitable “flavour”, special characters who tend not to mince their words, who everyone knows, and who often leave the community split into two: those who are declared fans, and those who do not share that level of enthusiasm.

Rogier van der Heide is one such character, the lighthouse among all lighting experts. Formerly a lighting designer of the category IALD Full Voting Member, he is still a lighting designer, but one who is firmly positioned on the other side of the fence and is now regarded differently, or sometimes ignored, by his former independent colleagues. That does not mean that he has not maintained the skills to design lighting or that he has lost any of his design qualities. But the purists in the lighting design world tend to presume the latter is the case. Rogier has opted to view lighting design from another perspective. To be honest, at least he has the advantage of being able to spot developments and potential before many independent designers can do so. And yet many lighting designers cannot, or do not want to, accept this.

At times, Rogier van der Heide can be a bit of a Fidgety Philip. He is regularly invited to give a talk at events around the world. Standing on the stage, doing his best to impart his know-how, he simply cannot stand still and needs two to three square metres, sometimes gesticulating wildly, to express his opinions and communicate his statements. His long blond hair falls forward, half covering his face, and everyone can see how pointless it is to continually attempt to push it back or to one side. For a split second you can see his face and his eyes, which usually look pretty tired given that he spends a lot of his time jetting from conference to conference to represent his current employer through his unique charisma. As a rule, Rogier has to bend over to have a meaningful conversation with an individual. And everyone is waiting for the moment when he engages in a dialogue with Kaoru Mende.

His texts can be clever and witty, and laced with his special sense of humour. Even the way he embarks on a presentation at a conference is unique. Whereas all other speakers graciously thank the organisers for the invitation and opportunity to give a talk, Rogier van der Heide thanks the audience for attending his lecture. Sounds plausible in the first instance, but completely ignores the fact that attendees may also value other speakers and are sitting in the audience because they will also be presenting. Looking back on his professional career, he sometimes associates it with a bike ride from Amsterdam to Dornbirn. Who else, apart from Rogier, would come up with such an analogy? But you can’t really hold anything against Rogier, not anymore.

Roger van der Heide is able to put together presentations and communicate messages that remain in your head forever! Not always, but sometimes – and at any rate no less frequently than any other lighting designer who can go on for hours about his/her career as an independent lighting designer.
Rogier has stopped growing in height, but not when it comes to content. Which is why he continues to find fans and followers around the world who are inspired by his observations and knowledge and his dry sense of humour – or sometimes not.

An industry thrives on the community that forms it – special characters, like Rogier van der Heide.

Photo: Zumtobel

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Sicilian feeling

… or experience wine all senses…

The Osteria Il Grano di Pepe project was developed with the aim of shaping a space which balances the elements necessary for a gastronomic experience par excellence, serving cuisine firmly rooted in Sicilian tradition, with a strong sensory and natural character, in keeping with the most advanced Emilian culinary culture.

25_Grano di Pepe_AltaThe resulting journey addresses the key moments in the definition of the relationship between space and food where the complexity is resolved simply and naturally. The layout is therefore simple, obvious, a classical dualism between serving space / space served: the entrance composition is defined by just a small number of features: a large closet that houses the cloakroom, cutlery, coffee machine and water dispenser, a subtle vertical structure in ash for the till and a wine rack, also in ash; an articulation which responds to the clear, fluid design: the welcome is formal, but at the same time “domestic”. This is also reflected in the materials: the exposed steel, the natural wood, the Sicilian decorative tiles.

As for the lounge, a subjective, convivial space, the multi-sensory experience of tasting is enhanced by the naturalness of the brushed ash table tops and the burnt wood panelling on the walls, which also serve to amplify the intimate and relational nature and reduce sound reverberations. Everything is unified through the horizontal elements: a subtle floor design which evokes the urban piazzas and a ceiling in slate and corten steel.

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The Yori LED projectors selected for the lighting of this space blend seamlessly into the setting; their unique embossed matt black finish brings a tactile harmony to the various textures in the lounge – wood, raw concrete and metal.

The high colour rendering index (CRI>90) offered by the LEDs in these luminaires effectively showcases the contrasting elements in the spaces, enhancing the sophisticated yet welcoming nature of the place. The flexibility of the luminaires means the beams can be precisely angled to create accent lighting on the tables or showcase particular features of the structures present, such as bottles of wine, books and paintings.

The careful placement of the projectors within the setting allows the desired lighting effect to be achieved, whilst also significantly reducing energy consumption.

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Project: Osteria il Grano di Pepe
Client: Osteria il Grano di Pepe
Year: 2015
Location: Ravarino (Modena, Italy)
Architect: Marco Bernardi

Other contributions:
Collaborators: Architect Alfredo Borghi, Engineer Andrea PAVANI
Carpentry: Rosario Licciardello

Photos: Lourdes Cabrera

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Learning from Neil Harbisson

indexLearning from someone who experiences vision differently

by Joachim Ritter

We all know what it means to be colour-blind. At least, we think we do.

A person who is “colour-blind” is not able to see colours. Well, that’s a simple way of putting it. If we take a closer look at this colour vision deficiency, we learn that there are two kinds of “colour blindness”, or to be more exact partial colour blindness (the difficulty in distinguishing between red and green, or blue and yellow) and total colour blindness. In general, we tend to describe people who cannot distinguish between red and green as being “colour-blind”. That is not correct, however. On the one hand, as a rule red-green colour blindness is only partial colour blindness and not total colour blindness, and on the other hand it means only two of the three colour receptors in the eye are defective.

images Given that only five to nine per cent of the male population is known to suffer from red-green colour blindness, we can safely say that we tend to use the term “colour blindness” wrongly. Medically speaking, real “colour blindness” (or to use the Latin term, “achromatopsia”) actually occurs very seldom. In these cases the person concerned is really not able to see any colours at all. Which means that the person’s vision has to rely on the light-dark receptors. True colour blindness frequently leads to a noticeable deterioration in the person’s vision overall.

Neil Harbisson is colour-blind – 100 per cent. He has not been able to see colours since the day he was born. He does not know what a red heart means or a blue ocean or green bread. He does not know these things and never has. But he can hear colours. At the age of 21 he had a probe implanted in his brain. A head-mounted antenna senses the colours directly in front of him and converts them in real-time into sound waves through bone conduction. The first impression we get of Neil Harbisson is that he looks like some kind of alien, with an antenna perched on the top of his head.

IDNeil Harbisson perceives his surroundings quite differently from the majority of people on this planet. He has never experienced differentiating between white people and black people. Judging by the sounds his brain receives skin colour is only evident in different shades of orange. Even if you initially regard the physical defect Neil lives with as a disadvantage, this is the point where you can say that he has a clear advantage over all other people: he knows that there is no basic difference in skin colour itself; it is only a matter of colour intensity. Which is naturally also evident within the groups of so-called “white” or “black” people.

You can discover more about Neil Harbisson and what other advantages he has gained through his special situation and how he decided to cope with it at PLDC, where he will be giving a presentation. It is not every day that you can enjoy such an inspirational experience.

And by the way: if you try to talk to Neil Harbisson about technical lighting standards, it just brings a smile to his lips.

Neil Harbisson is presenting at PLDC on Saturday at 10.15

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Kaoru Mende Travelling…

“Nightscape 2050 – a dialogue between Cities・Light・People in Future”
 Berlin >>> Singapore >>> Hong Kong >>> Tokyo
by Lighting Planners Associates (LPA)

Kaoru Mende is regarded as one of the world’s leading lighting designers. Together with his team from LPA – Lighting Planners Associates – he has realised more than 500 projects since the design practice was founded in 1990. This year marks his company’s 25th anniversary. Already a great work indeed. And yet reducing Kaoru Mende’s achievements exclusively to his design experience is really only half the story. He also deserves acclaim for his work as an educator, a pragmatist and a visionary, all qualities that demonstrate his true grandeur – and a practically perfect combination when it comes to staging a travelling exhibition about the future of lighting design in Berlin, Singapore, Hong Kong and his native city Tokyo. The exhibition is intended to be one of its kind on Light and Lighting sharing visions of the future of lighting, and the way designers can imagine using light with interested visitors.

How will we interact with light in the year 2050? In the exhibition Kaoru Mende and his team wanted to create a unique experience in which they share their ideas and thoughts with others. Rather than trying to predict the future, the goal was to seek discussion on how light may impact, or influence, our ‘way of being’ in future.

Nightscape 2050 – Theme and Concept
While creating an exhibition to share “hope and dreams of the future for light and human beings” with the visitors, Mende also wants to draw attention to the realities we are facing.
The exhibition is experiential, educational, imaginative:
•    experiential – visitors are able to feel the different lighting scenarios proposed
•    educational – learning from nightscapes around the world and holding thought-provoking interviews with visionaries such as architect Toyo Ito, physicist and researcher Shuji Nakamura, and industrial designer Ingo Maurer
•    imaginative – sparking the imagination of children through workshops to provide hope for the future.
The exhibition also represents clearly the philosophy of the design practice, which designs unusual living environments using light and underline the architecture as well as the lighting culture of the site or location.

LPA work on a wide range of projects from residential, hotel, commercial, public spaces, landscape to full-scale urban lighting projects, and have received numerous international lighting design awards.
LPA is also very active in promoting the appreciation of lighting culture and an awareness of good lighting through its non-profit wing, The Lighting Detectives. This forum gives the general public the opportunity to take part in discussions and workshops, helping them to understand how to better evaluate light and lighting. The annual Transnational Lighting Detectives event has been organised in over ten cities including Tokyo, New York City, Stockholm, Singapore, Beijing and Madrid.
The exhibition is due to open in August 2015 in Berlin and ends in June 2016 in Tokyo.



05_City nightscape





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San Paolo Church

The church of San Paolo, located in the historic centre of Casale Monferrato, was built by the Barnabites in around 1586. The Greek-cross interior contains rich artistic heritage, featuring, amongst others, works by Guglielmo Caccia, “il Moncalvo”, and pieces by Frans Van de Kasteele, while the aisle houses the Santa Casa della Vergine di Loreto Chapel, dating back to the seventeenth century.


The project of relamping the building was developed to reduce energy consumption and introduce lighting on a human scale, dedicated to the liturgy and to enhance a space of enormous symbolic value.

The artificial lighting was designed to integrate into the space, illuminating the same parts of the interior that the original builders enhanced using natural light: the altar, the ambon and the baptistery.

The guidelines laid down by the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) were adhered to. These required the lighting to meet the needs of religious celebration, not cause damage to the building or the works contained therein, and allow for tourist use.

Religious celebration requires first of all light for the priest to deliver his sermons, but also for his assistants and the congregation. The lighting of the presbytery must allow the celebrant to carry out his duties, and must stand out over that of the main body of the church in order to focus the attention of the congregation on the service in progress.

Additionally, the lighting must highlight the works of art and the architecture of the church, encouraging visitors to appreciate the religious aspect of the place by focusing on its core elements. Special attention was paid to ensuring that the vault lighting was not so severe as to damage the frescoes.

The Yori projectors with articulated arms were the perfect solution here; their mounting system and design make them ideal for installation in eaves, while the direction flexibility and reduced size enables them to be integrated discreetly within the setting.

The 10 Watt and 22 Watt versions were used to create optimum accent lighting for the building’s various artistic and architectural features, enhanced by a high colour rendering index using the latest generation LEDs (CRI>90). These light sources also minimise energy consumption, 11.4 Watts and 23.9 Watts respectively for the two versions.

The overall result is effective and pleasant, avoiding glare, not lighting unnecessary vertical surfaces and reducing shadows, which were previously quite marked. The efficiency achieved thanks to the new installation has also enabled significant savings in energy, around 60 per cent compared to the previous system.





Client: Church of San Paolo (former convent), Casale Monferrato (Alessandria), Rector – Canon Pier Paolo Busto
Location: Casale Monferrato
Architects: Luisa Papotti, Stefano Borghini
Lighting design: Prof. Marco Palandella & Roberto Corradini – Casale Monferrato (Alessandria)

Office of Cultural Heritage and Sacred Arts, Diocese of Casale Monferrato:
Manager – Father Renato Dalla Costa
Surveyor – Alan Zavattaro

Specialist architectural and historical consultancy:
Arch. Raffaella Rolfo – Trino (Vercelli)

Marco Guaschino Impianti Elettrici – Casale Monferrato (Alessandria)

Product applied: Reggiani

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Woven ethereal structures flooded with daylight

by Joachim Ritter

How wonderful is that! They are still some examples to be found: installations that reveal what light means and demonstrate that artificial or electric light can be good, but is no real substitute for daylight.

Together with metal sculptor Ulysse Lacoste and Laure Qaremy, the French architects from Atelier YokYok have designed a charming structure made of threads to create a tunnel-vault look-alike installation which they have called “Les Voûtes Filantes” (The Shooting Vaults – a play on words in French related to shooting stars). The walk-in installation can be seen – and experienced – in the sixteenth-century gothic-style cloister in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Cahors/F until the end of June. The project is one of three winning entries in the landscape garden competition that Cahors stages every year.


Thin blue strings are tightly woven to form tunnel-like passageways along the four main paths which run from the corners of the cloister and culminate at a circular flower bed in the centre of the garden. Archways representing different types of historic arches (ogee arch, lancet arch) form the entrances to the passages. The eye perceives an interplay of light and form, and the blue woven architectural forms that cover the passageways are seen as being dematerialised by the light. The tunnel-like passageways, though purposefully shaped, are light and transparent, and invite people to wander in. Their first response is to smile, as a sign of delight.

The woven tunnel shapes create an additional layer to the cloister, as if leading to a secret garden. The arches at either end of the threaded tunnel-vault structures do not match from the point of view of architectural style, which in fact adds to the overall whimsical effect. Visitors entering the semi-transparent covered passageways are immersed in a dream world which is flooded with natural light. The blue hue of the threads together with the daylight generate a wonderfully light and almost surreal effect: a kind of symbiosis of heaven and the glorious colour of summer flowers.

It is the combination of transparency and reflection, and the relationship between light and fine material that make this project so special. We all know that light itself is not visible, that it is only the surface or the material that reflects the light which is visible to the eye. In this case it is the threads, and the tiniest of fibres, that create the arc of tension and contribute to the magnificent quality of the whole.

But there is a further question that arises when viewing this exemplary work: to what extent could this quality be achieved using electric light? A rhetorical thought, given that it is clear to see that this is hardly feasible. In other words: it is good to know that no matter how good the light source is – be it an LED or a conventional incandescent lamp – and no matter what excellent lighting technology has been applied – be it a point source or wide-area lighting – this level of quality is not achievable using an electric lighting solution. It may be possible to achieve a different kind of quality, but not the quality we see here, which is determined by the Light Loci and the uncopiability of daylight.

Tunnel_2Tunnel_4It is, of course, the light spectrum, but also the general lighting provided by the sun, that delivers this quality and uniformity. A level of uniformity that is only possible thanks to the enormous distance between the light source and the space, or object, to be lit.

A fabulous interpretation of its big sister made of stone, which surrounds the cloister garden! And at the same time a complete contrast, a counterpole, that lends the architecture a certain lightness – because of the light, naturally.

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How PLDC is supporting market developments

International design competition in Rome linked to PLDC

by Joachim Ritter

A national culture is not only made up of positive phases. Nor is it possible to simply deny positive phases or undesirable political developments in a country – or wilfully destroy cultural heritage in order to eliminate the evidence of a specific era. Monuments that are thousands of years old as well as architecture from the past few decades are an expression of social and political processes and thus deserve to be preserved. Architecture can serve as a positive reminder of bygone times, but also of a warning of less positive historic events.


1. Palazzo Uffici 2. Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana 3. Palazzo dei Congressi 4. Palazzo Mostra della Romanità 5. Palazzo delle Poste 6. Nuvola 7. Archiio Centrale di Stato

The EUR district in Rome features a number of examples of the fascist architecture that date back to Mussolini times. Thank goodness we can now put this chapter in our history behind us. Now, more than half a century later, the time has come to accept this architecture for what it is, and regard it objectively for its historic significance. The new conference centre in Rome, designed by Massimiliano Fuksas, gives the City of Rome good reason to initiate this process.

The international design competition for a state-of-the-art lighting scheme for the EUR district addresses the exciting issue of culture, architecture and the significance of lighting in context. In cooperation with the National Council of Italian Architects, Planners, Landscapers and Curators, The Department for the Environment and Sustainability in Rome, AIDI, APIL and the Chamber of Architects, Planners, Landscapers and Curators in Rome, the City of Rome is inviting interdisciplinary teams of planners to tackle this challenge and submit realisable design concepts. How can light preserve the history of a city vividly and meaningfully and at the same time lend an urban quarter a new and modern identity through contemporary design? Light has the power to put architecture in a social and political context.

The competition is open to interdisciplinary teams comprising at least one architect and one lighting designer. As the initiators and organisers of PLDC, we are delighted to have helped provide the impetus to make this design competition happen and thus provide an example to the Italian lighting design community, through the international context, of the changes the lighting design profession is currently undergoing. Through this competition, the international lighting design community can prove that lighting designed by a qualified professional creates added value for the culture of a nation.

We therefore invite all architects and lighting designers to take part in this unique design competition and submit feasible concepts for the given site. The more interest this generates, and the greater the response, the more powerful the arguments will be for the significance of the lighting designer as part of the value chain to deliver quality architectural spaces.

The results of the competition will be presented at PLDC 2015 in Rome and the winners will be announced in a special ceremony. This means that PLDC will not only continue to gain significance with regard to knowledge and trends in lighting design, but also when it comes to official recognition of the profession, thus strengthening its position as an international platform for lighting designers, architects, clients, education and research, the lighting industry and political bodies.

More information and the full Call for Entries will be available from the end of May on this page.


Palazzo Uffici

1.  Palazzo UfficiPalazzo della Civiltà Italiana

2. Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana

Palazzo dei Congressi3. Palazzo dei Congressi

Palazzo dello Sport

Palazzo dello Sport

Obelisco di Marconi

Obelisco di Marconi


6. Centro Congressi Nuvola

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