The City Turns On the Light
- By Marina Dykina
- Sep. 29 2016 00:00
The city government allocated more than 64 billion rubles ($979 million) on architectural lighting from 2012 to 2016.
Architectural lighting is the lighting of streets and buildings. It not only pleases the eye, it also masks construction flaws and helps sell real estate.
The goal of architectural illumination is to make a building stand out when it is dark, to emphasize its strengths and hide its weaknesses, says Vladislav Melnikov, senior vice president of VTB Bank and head of the Match Point mixed-use development project. The correct light enhances the emotional perception of architecture and making streets safer, adds Ivan Fedyanin, CEO of L1 Group. In the summer of 2016 at the Moscow Urban Forum, Pavel Livinsky, head of the Moscow Fuel and Energy Sector Department, said that "the introduction of new light safety standards will not only reduce the number of road accidents, but also reduce street crime and vandalism, increase environmental safety, and increase revenue from evening tourism, reviving economic life, increasing payments to the city budget from additional sales turnover and expanding the quality of services in lighted and landscaped urban spaces." The city government allocated more than 64 billion rubles ($979 million) on architectural lighting from 2012 to 2016, including more than 15 billion rubles in 2016 for the urban utility subprogram "Development of Unified Light and Color Environment." Yuri Medvedev, a partner in Illuminator Project, has been a light designer for several projects (the Garden Ring, Boulevard Ring, Moscow Kremlin, Mozhayskoe, Rublevskoe). He calculates that the totality of light design solutions on the Garden Ring was worth about 60 million rubles ($918,000), and its planning accounted for about 10 percent of that amount.
"Light is capable of so much!" Marina Tyshchenko, CEO of Philips Lighting for Russia and the CIS, exclaimed. You can visually expand space with it or make it more intimate, to create a festive atmosphere or one that is more relaxing. All this increases the tourism and investment attractiveness of the city, so the authorities have a special interest in the lighting of the capital, Tyshchenko said. She gives examples like the International Center for Youth Culture's huge spaceship of a building in Nanjing, designed by Zaha Hadid and the "calling card" of the region; also the home stadium of Bayern Munich football club, equipped with Europe's largest LED facade, New York's symbolic Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Ferris wheel in London, etc.
Philips Lighting was the hardware installation contractor for 19 lighted buildings in the center of Moscow. "Facades of houses on Novy Arbat, Prospekt Mira, Tverskaya and Tverskaya-Yamskaya were fitted with equipment that allows you to create dynamic lighting scenarios, transforming the building into a huge display," Tyshchenko said. The lighted "open book" buildings on Novy Arbat became a tourist attraction after LED media facades that change color were installed in 2012, and images from snowflakes to hearts are projected on them during the holidays.
Nanjing, China: The 68-story International Youth Culture Center in Nanjing is lit by 700,000 LEDs, making it look like a giant space ship. On the right: The London Eye: The 135-meter London Eye Ferris wheel, built to celebrate the Millennium, is bathed in 16 million lights.
It All Started in Paris
At the beginning of the 16th century, the mayor of Paris issued a decree ordering every inhabitant of the city from sunset to sunrise "to keep a lighted lamp or a candle on the sill of a window overlooking the street. "It did not provide a lot of light, but at least it was no longer was pitch dark on the streets," said Alexei Suglob, CEO of the Saros-Svet M company. A century later, European capitals began creating holiday illumination. In the archives of the Moscow Kremlin, design sketches can be found for the coronation ceremony of Alexander I, with the original lighting effects, said Fedyanin of L1 Group. "By the 1930s, urged on by companies making electrical systems, a deeper understanding of the interaction of light with architecture was reached, and this is when the term architectural lighting arose," Fedyanin said. New York was a pioneer of architectural lighting. The skyscrapers of Manhattan have had decorative illumination since the 1920s.
Melnikov considers China one of the arbiters of modern lighting fashion. Shanghai and Hong Kong make a stunning impression on tourists with their towers and embankments flooded with light. The building of Asia and the United Arab Emirates are grandiosely illuminated. In Europe, according to Fedyanin, the style has been more modest. But Lyon, France, is considered the world capital of architectural lighting. Here, as in Frankfurt, a famous exhibition of urban lighting design is held annually.
The New Arbat: With new lighting, the "open book" buildings on the New Arbat have become real tourist attractions. Programming makes it possible to create lighting scenes with any colors of the rainbow and illustrate any city events.
Light and technology
Different architectural lighting techniques are used for different types of urban sites (parks, monuments or building facades), says Alexei Suglob, CEO of Saros-Svet M.
• Fill light. How non-residential buildings and large objects are illuminated. High-power instruments are needed, a wide-angle light beam, and a special location. Usually lights are set up at some distance from the building, on nearby buildings, poles or on the ground.
• Accent lighting is used if necessary to pick out an interesting detail: a cornice, column or box. The light source is located directly on the facade.
• Hidden lights are widely used to decorate shopping centers, fountains, bridges and so on. The lighting device is not visible.
• Light graphics, silhouette lighting. They are used to draw contours or different patterns on the facade of the building. Contrasting patterns are generated by optical lenses and prisms. In addition, they use glowing cords and small LED lamps.
• Illumination. Strings of light, sequenced lights, glowing shapes and everything else that decorates the city on a holiday. Most shopping centers use this type of decoration throughout the year.
In the 1990s, foreign tourists in Moscow complained about the lack of lighting. The Russian capital has changed beyond recognition in this regard, and, according to Fedyanin, it now ranks among the world's three best-lit cities. "It's not only in the center, but also dominant architectural highlights in other areas, and bridges and thoroughfares (the Third Transport Ring, for example) literally soar above the city thanks to well designed LED backlighting unique to each object," Melnikov said.
But not everyone is satisfied with the quality of the design of streets and buildings in Moscow. According to Olga Korteva, general director of Light Workshop No. 9, Moscow lacks a coherent urban lighting concept. "Unfortunately, the implementation of all kinds of 'conceptual' lighting tenders is not an integrated approach," the architect said. "Fast, low-quality, crude and thoughtless. Those are the principles behind the actions of today's pseudo-lighting — designers. The 'torn' light ring on the Garden Ring, which cost taxpayers 5 billion rubles ($76.7 million), is an example of this. And ragged spots with odd lighting and sometimes buildings far away from each other on highway ramps."
Medvedev is convinced that the light noise in Moscow "is almost impossible to change using classical lighting techniques." "Now is the time to talk about the benefits of the dark," he says. "The city is saturated with overly bright light. How can you highlight a particular object on a street flooded with light? Only by making it even brighter. So now, when talking about the comfort of the light environment in the metropolis, it makes sense to sink into darkness for a while, to start generating a high-quality urban lighting environment on a clean slate."
As for the particulars, Korteva considers it wrong to ignore the style of facades or to use many techniques at the same time. "It's not worth going into the details if you leave most of the facade of the building in the shade. All this, plus the careless work, are typical mistakes in architectural lighting design."
"Abroad, instead of highlighting an enormous number of objects in a short time on a certain date, they prefer to work with the individual building-objects at the design stage, when it is easier for the lighting designer to get in touch with the architect and incorporate the light equipment competently and without fittings showing," said Korteva. "For example, installing lighting on the front unnoticed, so it doesn't catch the eye during the day or spoil the image with shadows of the brackets. And control over the object is stricter when the lighting designer acts as co-author of the architectural draft."
European Shopping Center — The European billboard is the most modern means of communication with the consumer. The dynamic content not only creates the mood, it informs guests of sales and promotions at the center. On the right: Vegas — The largest LED billboard in Russia, Vegas Crocus City shopping center has 10,000 LED garlands, 2500 LED panels and 240,000 LED lamps, and all of the media content is controlled from a single computer.
A Nighttime Setting
Special attention was paid to lighting in the Breath project. "Our task was not only to emphasize the building and separate it from the dark facades at night, but also to support the concept and the name of the complex," says Grigory Altukhov, commercial director of Leader finance and construction company, the project developer. "Dynamic lighting will simulate the building breathing. The cost of the lighting is about 8 percent of the total cost of the facade."
For Match Point, two lighting scenarios are being developed. "The facades of the high-rise part of the complex are located on Kutuzovsky Prospect, and lower building looks on Vasilisa Kozhina Street and the residential development in the Filevsky Park district. We have the difficult task of making something that will fit into the surrounding urban landscape as organically as possible, not distracting from the nearby Triumphal Arch and Victory Park memorial," Melnikov said.
The Central Properties company is going to link lighting scenarios with human biological rhythms in the Only project (an apartment complex in Fili). "A total of 15 scenarios are provided. Depending on the intensity of the natural light, the time of day and the season, a computer program selects the optimal mode for each light source. In the morning, white light helps with awakening and energizing for a productive day. Warm evening light creates a feeling of calm and coziness. There are holiday scenarios — the street and facades are lit with colors, and the complex is bright and elegant. The concept helped us to create the Lighting Design Studio, it all came together at the design stage," said Only brand director Irina Kuznetsova. The cost of the lighting could come to 150 million rubles ($2.3 million), she said.
In the Panorama Skolkovo residential complex (designed by SMU-6), cornices of light are drawn on the silhouette of the buildings and entranceways stand out. Domestically produced instruments are used in illumination, added project architect Olga Korteva. For the Novogorsk residential complex from the Khimki Group, Saros-Svet M picked unobtrusive and energy-efficient equipment and offered two scenarios — holiday and casual — for architectural lighting of the buildings and adjacent territory.
The Residences at Vsevolozhsk complex used lighting to emphasize the entrance group: Art Deco-style stone carving, on forged elements. "After 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, the lights are no longer really needed, since almost no one sees them. Nevertheless, it works to create the atmosphere of the place," says Ilya Mashkov, head of Mezonproekt, the architect of the complex. The architect estimated the "price of the atmosphere" at between 3 million and 20 million rubles ($46,600-310,650), including lighting, control systems, assembly and adjustment.
At the Vegas Crocus City shopping and entertainment center, experts from Philips Lighting have made Russia's largest electronic billboard that hugs the shape of the building and is integrated into the ventilated façade, capable of reproducing a palette of 16 million colors and translating any text and images, such as news alerts and traffic information in the city, and created a unique light image of the shopping gallery, a copy of Times Square in Manhattan. The Gidroproekt building also serves as a large-screen TV in Moscow. It is an extreme case of architectural lighting that essentially replaces the actual object, says Ilya Mashkov.
LEDs are being used in building construction, to illuminate paths and small architectural forms in parks, and to draw attention to the roadway where lamps serve as signposts, traffic signs and so forth. In office buildings, they create a comfortable environment in the evening. As a result, "an illuminated the building attracts more tenants and visitors," said Korteva.