Bright New Ideas in Lighting

Bright New Ideas in Lighting

Whether natural or artificial, light plays a central role in the design of the built environment. From solar panels to LEDs, bright new ideas in lighting are shaping the future of our streetscapes, public spaces, and building interiors. For example, with contemporary LED technology, today’s designers possess a building element where tiny software driven pixels can be flexibly embedded in furniture, surfaces, and even building façades, changing their intensity and color dynamically and transforming even everyday objects into luminous, storytelling elements. Inspired by the central role of light in today’s culture and technology, the United Nations has proclaimed 2015 as the “International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies” (IYL2015). In honor of this, we present four of CADdetails’ favorite world-class architectural lighting design projects from near and far.

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©  pixabay

Dragon Bridge (Cầu Rồng)
Da Nang City, Vietnam

A fire-breathing dragon may seem like something straight out of a fairytale, but Philips Color Kinetics and the people of Da Nang, Vietnam have brought this mystical creature to life, with the magnificent Dragon Bridge (Cầu Rồng), pictured above. The 2,185 foot-long, dragon-shaped steel bridge, which spans Vietnam’s Han River, serves as a connector between the Da Nang International Airport and the area's most popular beaches and the downtown core. The spectacular marvel of engineering was inaugurated on March 29, 2013, to commemorate the 38th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. 

To highlight the awe-inspiring dragon, about 2,500 Philips LED light points were used. The intelligent lighting solution can be controlled and changed into multiple color combinations, customizable for any occasion, festival or holiday. In addition, the dragon is capable of releasing bursts of real fire or sprays of water from its mouth.

The eye catching design clearly positions the port city of Da Nang as a gateway for Vietnam, and puts the country firmly on the world map of lighting design.

In Lumine Tuo
Utrecht, The Netherlands

Created as part of the tri-centenary celebrations of the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, In Lumine Tuo is an award-winning lighting installation that commemorates the Dutch city and its landmarks: the Dom Tower, church, and square. The project brief asked for a design that would transform these symbols into “living” entities, while recalling their place in Utrecht’s history.

The design team at Speirs + Major created a design in which “light comes from within.” As such, lighting becomes the common element used to highlight the architectural details of the Gothic-style tower and church. All the lighting equipment—spotlights, projectors, strobes, and controls—were carefully positioned using compression clamping so as not to compromise any part of the landmark structures.

The Dom Tower, pictured above, is the focal point of In Lumine Tuo. Visible from different vantage points in the city, the light sequence is timed to take place just before the striking of the hour. The show begins as the spotlights in the tower’s arches fade in and out at different intensities. Once the structure is fully illuminated, chimes begin to ring, and a series of lighting effects—bursts of speckled white light—move up the tower. As the bells get louder, the movement of light accelerates, and the installation culminates in a flickering burst of light from the tower’s belfry. The clock strikes, the tower goes dark, and then it illuminates again. It’s as if the tower is breathing and city residents—past and present—are connected across time.

© Canaan -  wikimedia commons

© Canaan - wikimedia commons

Barcelona, Spain

BruumRuum! is an interactive lighting installation by David Torrents and artec3 in collaboration with Ledscontrol, which can be found in the Plaza de Glories of Barcelona, next to the Museum of Design (DHUB) and Torre Agbar in Barcelona, Spain.

Depending on the intensity of environmental sounds, this dynamic installation changes shape and color, presenting a dialogue between visitors and the public space through sound and light. The installation interacts with the intensity of voices through trumpet like sensors installed in the square, and also with the background noise generated by the city. The operation combines color and sound with 550 LEDs embedded in the ground. 

BruumRuum! has won a "special mention of an intuitive interactive lighting experience" in the last edition of the International Lighting Design Awards 2014 IALD. The Jury described the work as "a great example of social interactive light and sound."

Starry Night Bike Path
Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Pictured above, Dutch artist and designer Daan Roosegaarde and construction services company Heijmans Infrastructure have created a magical cycle path, illuminated with patterns inspired by Vincent van Gogh's painting The Starry Night. The stunning surface is coated with a special paint that uses solar energy gathered during the day to glow after dark. Forming part of the Van Gogh cycle route through the Dutch province of Noord Brabant, where the artist was born and raised, the half-mile long section of path illuminates in swirling patterns that reference his 1889 painting of a night-time scene.

A nearby solar panel is used to generate power to illuminate the coated surface. LEDs along the side of certain curves in the path cast extra light, meaning the path will still be partially lit if the weather has been too cloudy for the panel to charge the surface to its full brightness. 

This isn't the first time Roosegaarde has teamed up with construction-services business Heijmans. The collaborators have also been working on a series of "Smart Highways," a concept that combines light, energy and road signs that react according to the current traffic conditions.


These four examples highlight innovative approaches to shedding a little more light on the word’s streetscapes, public spaces, and building interiors. Need more inspiration? As the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting trade show and conference, Lightfair International (LFI) , held in 2015 at New York’s Jarvis Center May 5th - 7th, blends continuing education courses with innovative products ranging from high-end design to cutting-edge technology.

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Cover photo © Unsplash

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