An Introduction to Architectural Lighting
Architecture is among one of the most inspiring examples of cultural identity, aesthetic, form, and function in the modern world. It’s hard to think of Paris, Rome, or New York City without buildings like the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, or the Empire State Building, immediately popping into our minds.
At HARMAN Professional Solutions, we’ve had the privilege of designing and providing customized exterior lighting solutions for many exciting architectural projects throughout the United States and the rest of the world.
In this article, we are going to discuss how we’ve used Martin by HARMAN lighting products to enhance projects in San Francisco, Atlanta, Dubai and Denmark.
Types of Architectural Lighting
Let’s start by outlining the three main categories of architectural lighting solutions used in these projects:
- The first group consists of traditional wash products that illuminate buildings, façades, or other stuctures, based on dynamic color and control. This includes Martin Exterior Wash, Exterior Inground, Linear and Exterior Linear product families.
- The next group is used to augment the traditional lighting with outdoor projected images. This group includes Exterior Projection 500 and 1000 gobo projector solutions.
- The final group includes direct view solutions that can be mounted directly onto the building and can create low-resolution media façades that catch the public eye. This group includes Exterior Pixline, VC-Dot, and Exterior Dot HP solutions that work together with a media server.
Traditional Wash Solutions at Dubai’s Burj Al Arab Hotel
Opened in 1999, the instantly recognizable Burj Al Arab Hotel is an old building by Dubai standards. However, the Jumeirah Group have kept this landmark fresh by renovating and updating over the years, including the façade lighting.
The original lighting concept was a smooth wash, covering the entire 650-foot tall building, with horizontal veins of light dividing the building into different vertical segments. These horizontal solutions could be used to create moving wave animations and feature different colors across the vertical segments.
In 2016, the owner decided to refurbish the lighting with the goal of maintaining the original design and lighting positions with new fixtures that could withstand the extreme temperature, humidity and salty air of the Dubai climate.
Because the positions were already set from the original design, we worked closely with the local distributor to calculate how many fixtures were needed, as well as output and beam spread. The challenge was to provide a significant amount of light on the building without blinding guests through the suite windows.
To accomplish this task, we used a total of 56 fixtures with 13-degree lenses and 18 fixtures with 11-degree lenses. All of the fixtures are part of the Martin Exterior Wash family of products, which offers three sizes, three LED configurations and a wide range of lens accessories, making it a highly customizable solution. We also included snoots to eliminate the glare in the guest suites. The Exterior Wash fixtures are outdoor-rated and perform reliably in the extreme Dubai weather.
Outdoor Projection Solutions at San Francisco Greenhouse
Next, we’ll review a recent project that involved using outdoor projections to make a building or façade more visually appealing. This example involves a historic greenhouse in San Francisco. As the owner wanted to make nighttime visits more exciting, we teamed up with Obscura Digital to illuminate and enhance the greenhouse’s main façade.
The greenhouse project is an excellent example of using outdoor projected images, the second type of architectural lighting. Using ten Martin Exterior Projection 500 fixtures, Obscura Digital mapped all of the images together and treated the entire exterior of the Greenhouse as a single, complete canvas.
Exterior Projection 500 fixtures feature a six-gobo rotation system. The team photographed some of the flowers in the Greenhouse’s botanical garden and then constructed custom gobos, based on these photographs. The challenge was to map these gobos accurately on the building’s surface, despite the fixtures shooting from very different angles.
Obscura Digital accomplished this by laser-scanning the entire building, creating a 3D model, and then using these projection mapping techniques to create the custom gobos. This means each gobo’s image is distorted when shot from a direct angle and only maps correctly from the exact angles used in the project. This advanced approach may sound complicated, but you can achieve amazing results simply by using the Exterior Projection fixture’s standard set of gobos.
In fact, using grid gobos is a cost-efficient way to create custom gobos for architectural projects. A grid gobo is a gobo with a very precise grid pattern that enables you to visually map a building’s geometry with a photograph from the exact position of the fixture. Using this as a template, you can import the photograph into Adobe Photoshop or a similar program and design a custom gobo that fits exactly onto the features of the building.
The Exterior Projection family comes in two sizes. The Exterior Projection 1000 is three times brighter than the 500 model and features full color mixing and a full zoom system. The Exterior Projection 500 features four fixed beam angles and fixed colors. Both fixtures offer crisp gobo image projection and animation effects that enable lighting professionals to implement creative solutions in permanent installations.
Exterior Linear Solutions at Denmark’s Jyske Bank Boxen
Opened in 2010, the Jyske Bank Boxen is a multipurpose arena in the city of Herning. With a 12,500 capacity, it hosts major sporting events like the ice hockey world championship and concerts by Metallica, Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, and more. A few years ago, the arena’s operator decided to construct a new foyer with restaurants, bars, and other hospitality areas.
Both the architect and owner wanted to highlight the foyer area with a dynamic lighting solution which they could customize for each event. The foyer’s façade is a five-layer system with compressed air that also functions as the building’s insulation.
Our team installed 268 DMX-linked Martin Exterior Linear QUAD Graze fixtures to create a low-resolution media façade. With its extremely powerful output, Exterior Linear QUAD Graze fixtures are able to provide visual appeal that isn’t drowned out by the interior lighting.
Exterior Linear fixtures have built-in power supplies, which eliminate the need for external power supplies and additional cable runs. A hybrid design allows a single cable to supply power and data to each fixture. Another benefit of the Exterior Linear Quad fixtures is that its premixed color prevents the color shadowing that results from multiple LED layers.
For this application, we used a Danish media server called Kollision MAP that allows the arena staff to remotely change the colors and animations, curating unique designs to match each event. You might want to also check out the Jyske Bank Boxen Arena Martin Case Study and video to learn more.
Direct View Solutions at Atlanta’s American College Football Hall of Fame
Finally, we have an example of a direct view solution at the American College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia. The building already had an existing façade with frosted glass and a high-resolution digital video wall. The building’s operator wanted to enhance the façade by implementing a low-resolution media solution.
The integrator installed Martin VC-Dot 9 LED video fixtures behind the glass panels to display custom-made low-resolution content. One of the challenges of using large media façades is that you need to be a great distance to not recognize each individual LED pixel. However, in this case, the frosted glass in front of the fixtures softens the glare of each dot.
This example proves that the general rule of thumb for video screens doesn’t apply to creative solutions using VC-Dot fixtures. It’s important to create content that suits a low-resolution media display. Fortunately, the Martin P3 System Controller – the central brain behind the VC-Dot media system – makes it easy to map your pixel configuration and understand how the content will overlay on the VC-Dot products.
VC-Dots come in three different sizes with customizable dot spacing, enabling teams to design the perfect configuration for any scenario. Another benefit is that integrators can use the P3 System Controller to display the same content over a mix of VC-Dot fixtures and Exterior Pixline fixtures. You also might want to check out the American College Football Hall of Fame Martin Case Study.
Architecture is a special art that fuses form and function to support the needs of a community and inspire future generations of humanity. Throughout this article, we’ve shared examples of how HARMAN’s expert team of product integrators and Martin lighting fixtures combine to give designers and installers a huge array of customizable options to elevate any architectural lighting project to iconic status.
We hope you enjoyed this article, but we also invite you to view our full webinar, ‘Architectural Product Overview with Robert Svensson and Henrik Kristensen’.
We invite you to view all our upcoming Martin Learning Sessions and our recorded Martin Learning Sessions Playlist. Our complete audio, video and lighting Learning Sessions Calendar and our library of all recorded learning sessions is available as well.