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Åre Ski Resort, Jämtland, Sweden

Issue 67 Jun / Jul 2012 : Architecture : Landscape

LIGHTING DESIGN: Ljusarkitektur

Leading Scandinavian lighting design practice Ljusarkitektur has created a magical night-time skiing attraction at Sweden’s best-known ski resort using a Nordic folklore narrative.

Pics: Mikael Silkeberg

Folklore tales were the inspiration for the lighting of the 3.5 km ski run in the top Swedish snow resort of Åre using colour-changing Lumenpulse Lumenbeam LED luminaires. Stockholm-based lighting design practice Ljusarkitektur based its design for the family-friendly ski slope on a children’s tale (Rut i Skut) about a stone-throwing giant whose rampages helped form the area’s mountains and lakes.

Some 240 luminaires cast an eerie moonlight glow over the slope to create an attraction aimed at boosting the resort’s nighttime economy. Ljusarkitektur chose Lumenpulse fixtures for their high performance, ease of maintenance and ability to withstand tough weather conditions including temperatures far below freezing point.

About 350km below the Arctic Circle, Åre was named as one of the ‘world’s top ski resorts’ by the British travel magazine Condé Nast Traveller in 2009. In 2010, Ljusarkitektur created a masterplan for the Åre ski run, basing it on the concept of using light to create a rich narrative related to the area. The mood conjured by the dynamic lighting is in strict contrast to the harsher and more energy-hungry floodlighting used throughout other ski resorts. Night skiing is growing in popularity in Sweden among experienced skiers while the new attraction appeals to all ages and skill levels.

The new attraction, which opened in January 2012, is part of a major investment by resort owner SkiStar, which expects to make a return on its investment in two to three years.

“The return comes from the overall effect of attracting more visitors and creating an experience that will bring people back again and again,” says SkiStar destination director Niclas Sjögren Berg.
The programmable lighting effects evoke an atmosphere of myth and magic to accompany professionally scripted, guided tours titled ‘In the Footsteps of Giants’.

“The lighting has been used to create something completely different,” Berg adds.

The success of Ljusarkitektur’s artistic and technical vision means “the focus of lighting on other ski slopes is on skiing but here skiing is the way to enjoy the lighting”.

Ljusarkitektur wanted to develop the narrative using LEDs to create a design that “is more about mood than direct imagery which might be scary for children,” explains project managing lighting designer Paul Ehlert. “The blue and white lighting is a reference to the moonlight and clouds and the fact that it is dynamic links it to nature.”

The lighting poles themselves are an important feature of the design. A linear graze of warm light highlights the orange poles, manufactured by French company Technilum, creating a visual link with fire and lava that the Jämtland region’s giants were once said to have thrown about in anger. The orange beacons contrast against the deep blue landscape and become an important way-finding element.

There is one part of the ski run that gets plunged into darkness however, thus allowing the giants, who are afraid of light, onto the slope. The lighting is programmed to turn off every ten minutes on this part of the piste making the skier feel the thrill of vulnerability for a couple of seconds as they hurtle down the slope.

Ljusarkitektur creative director Kai Piippo says: “This is both a landscape and an experience project. We have been able to use the best available technology both to continue and to reinvent the tradition of storytelling from the area that dates back hundreds of years. In one story, a giant tells a little girl that the night belongs to the giants. You never see them but there is one stretch of about 100 metres on the tour that is completely dark and you get the real feeling that they are there.”
The installation uses luminaires from the IP66-rated Lumenbeam family including the multi-award-winning LBX. It is designed both for photometric performance and to ensure sustainability by enabling simple component renewal without the need to replace the entire luminaire. The luminaires are controlled via DMX using a network of six Pharos LPC1 controllers and the light intensities and colours can be modified along the route of the ski slope. Distributors Stockholm Lighting adapted a data enabler that could fit into each of the lighting poles enabling the entire installation to be monitored and controlled remotely from its offices in Stockholm. This gives them email feedback regarding the status of temperatures inside the exterior cabinets (in case of heating failure), the status of the controllers as well as the status of all power supplies to the system (each controller has two power supplies in case one fails). The backbone is a fibre network also incorporating Philips Multi Protocol Converters to output DMX via wireless networking in more difficult to get to places. The Philips protocol (KiNET) is distributed via a Pharos TPC controller. Each lighting pole has three to six Lumenbeam fixtures but can support up to eight if required.

Although energy saving was not the primary aim of the installation, LEDs are an efficient source. “The concept relates to the area and makes use of advanced technology,” says Joonas Saaranen, also of Ljusarkitektur. “However, the conventional floodlighting used on ski runs is high wattage at 6-10kW per lighting pole and with the reflection off the snow it is so bright it is supposedly visible from space. The LED scheme covers nearly 4km on 63 poles, but uses about the same energy as just three traditional floodlighting poles.”


Åre Ski Resort, Jämtland, Sweden
Client: SkiStar, Åre 
Lighting Design: Ljusarkitektur
Support: Stockholm Lighting

Lumenpulse products:
66 x Lumenbeam LBX (custom static blue and 4000K white, narrow flood 20° optics)
61 x Lumenbeam LBX (custom static blue and 4000K white, narrow spot 10° optics)
3 x Lumenbeam LBX (RGB, very narrow 6° optics)
2 x Lumenbeam LBX (RGB, flood 40° optics)
8 x Lumenbeam Large (RGB, narrow flood 20° optics)
2 x Lumenbeam Large (RGB, narrow spot 10° optics)
2 x Lumenbeam Large (3000K, narrow spot 10° optics)
90 x Lumenbeam Medium (3000K, narrow spot 10° optics)
6 x Lumenbeam Medium (RGB, narrow spot 10° optics)
1 x Lumenbeam Medium (RGB, flood 40° optics)

63 x Technilum Multi Projector Support K140 lighting pole
6 x Pharos LPC1 controllers on piste
1 x Pharos TPC controller in control room
1 x Pharos RIO44 (interface to KNX)
Philips Multi Protocol Converters
1 x Griven GoboLED 80 projector
1 x DiCon Fiber projector + various fibers
1 x Martin Exterior 1200 Image Projector
1 x Martin Exterior 400 Image Projector (custom made)


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