The digital society is making new demands on light and lighting. Technical complexity in lamp design is becoming increasingly invisible, and functionality and the impact of the lighting are growing in importance.
The Jacques Cartier Bridge, described as the most connected bridge in the world, uses over 2800 intelligent LEDs – attached to its steel truss structure – to reflect the energy and pulse of Montreal in real time; it comes alive every night and, for 52 minutes of each hour, pulses with social conversations as tracked on Twitter in real time, with the intensity, speed and density of the light fragments changing according to how the Montreal-related hashtags are liked and shared. For the remaining eight minutes of the hour, animations create a data-driven show that visually translates Montreal’s activity and mood based on the different types of daily data: weather, traffic, news, major events and so on. In addition, over 365 days, the bridge slowly changes colour with the seasons - from spring green to summer orange, autumn red to icy blue.
More than 250 creatives, engineers, lighting designers, project managers, programmers, rope access technicians, steelworkers, electricians, traffic officers and others worked on the lighting for over two years; 10.4 kilometres of cabling was required to illuminate and animate the bridge and 10 000 mounting systems were used to secure the lighting fixtures to the steel supports. It is an enormous, smart and impressive lighting installation that celebrates the structure and the city.
As one would expect, the bridge has its supporters and its detractors. Previously an iconic daytime architectural feature of Montreal, it now illuminates the night time sky and will no doubt achieve its aim of drawing tourists to the city. The technical complexity is invisible and it allows for individuality in use, but is such an installation ‘functional’ and although the lighting reflects Montreal-related hashtags, do the tweets in light mean anything to the average person?
It would be interesting to know what Amardeep Dugar makes of it. In his article ‘A roadmap for lighting smart cities’, he outlines a conceptual framework for lighting strategies that unite key aspects of smart cities such as safety, superiority and sustainability. The roadmap shows that lighting for smart cities is about creating desirable habitats for humans, fauna and flora and that the intentions of a master plan should meet the needs of the citizens. A lighting design should respond appropriately to people’s emotions, need for comfort, creativity and aesthetics – we will find out in time if the Jacques Cartier Bridge does.
Other articles in the November issue of Lighting in Design include the illumination of the AMG Performance Centre in Pretoria, where a PLC has been installed to create innovative visual stimulation through light; the lighting installation at Sun International’s Sun Arena and the external lighting for Alice Lane Phase 111, which was designed for an atmosphere of comfort and ease.
As 2017 draws to an end Carin, Adel and I would like to wish you all a wonderful break over December and all best wishes for a happy and successful 2018.