The Lighting Control Innovation Award was created in 2011 as part of the Illuminating Engineering Society’s Illumination Awards program, which recognizes professionalism, ingenuity and originality in lighting design. LCA is proud to sponsor the Lighting Control Innovation Award, which recognizes projects that exemplify the effective use of lighting controls in nonresidential applications.
This month, we will explore the role of lighting controls in creating an illuminated lightwall as part of a three-month installation piece. Design by Keith Bradshaw, Clementine Fletcher-Smith and Iain Ruxton of Speirs + Major. Photography by James Newton. Lighting by LightLab.
In March 2015, a three-month installation piece entitled HALFLIFE was launched; an immersive experience based on British physicist Ernest Rutherford’s principle of decay, ‘Half-life (t1/2)’. The piece was designed specifically for the illuminated lightwall that runs the full length of a curved tunnel which connects an underground station with a square.
Within the tunnel’s 90m-glazed wall, 180 sources of light are concealed behind semi-translucent glass panels. These can be programmed which together create a rich palette of animated color, forming hues and saturations of light which are not commonly experienced from artificial light.
Making full use of the wall’s possibilities, each cycle began with a fully lit elevation. This then halved exponentially in size towards the center of the tunnel, leaving a ghost image of the light that was previously visible. When there was only one light left glowing, the wall rebuilt in a chaotic fashion, in direct contrast to the orderly deterioration of light that came before.
HALFLIFE continually changed in color over the course of the installation, as hues radiated anti-clockwise around the color wheel whilst gradually deepening in saturation. A number of site visits were conducted after-hours to test the concept and fine tune the control – both in terms of the deterioration and re-growth of the light and the iterations of the color sequence.
The rhythm of the piece had a mathematical rigor and created a sense of calm through repetition. The use of a simple binary process for the decay was important, so that the re-growth was a chaotic contrast; a pleasing parallel to the constant movement of ‘commuters’ versus the individuality of people. The mathematical basis for the programming code also had resonance with the UNESCO Year of Light, showing how design, science and technology can create something exciting and engaging.