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O2 World Arena, Berlin, Germany

Issue 46 Dec / Jan 2008/9 : Architectural : Façade

Lighting Design: LIGHTWILD Architecture: HOK Sport / JSK Architects

Tom Stafford, President of Lightwild, a US manufacturer of architectural LED lighting products, explains their concept for the façade of Berlin's O2 World Arena.

The O2 World Arena, which opened to the public on September 10, 2008, is located on the former east side of the Berlin Wall. Resting on 50 acres along the Spree River, the project was designed by HOK Sport and JSK Architects. The arena seats approximately 17,000 people and is used for concerts, sporting events and other special events.

LightWild joined the project in early 2007 after the lead architect with HOK Sport noted one of our façade lighting projects on a large hotel in the U.S. The architect connected us with Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), a worldwide arena owner and operator, and they invited us to compete against other lighting firms by presenting concepts and scaled demonstrations for the façade lighting on their planned Berlin arena. AEG’s goal was to have an innovative and defining lighting installation that was integral to the arena’s identity.

After being awarded the project, LightWild worked directly with the project’s architects and M&E contractors for several months to fully engineer the lighting concept and ensure collaboration on all details and requirements.

The first challenge was to fully comprehend the physical features of the façade so all our strategies could adequately deliver the desired results across the massive area. For reference, the facade is 116 metres long by 12 metres tall and is built on a 104-degree curve with an average radius of 65 metres. There are 117 aluminium vertical mullions spaced slightly more than 1 meter horizontally across the glass façade. Each mullion is angled at the top toward the ground by 9 degrees.

The lighting concept called for meaningful content to be exhibited across the glass façade. The requirements mandated LightWild to seamlessly integrate all lighting, optics and wiring into the vertical aluminum mullions of the architectural design. An additional goal was to have the ability to deliver multiple content views across the façade’s curve because most visitors approach the arena from train stations on the opposite sides of the arena façade and not from the centre.

So in summary, the engineering challenge was to bridge light between the vertical mullions and across a curved glass façade while delivering media content befitting a world-class arena. The solution was to develop an elongated LED lighting source and a secondary curved optical lens that spanned 12 metres along the face of each vertical mullion. The lighting source was a modified LightWild Pixel with 40 RGB LEDs in each pixel. We utilised 60 Pixels vertically in each mullion 20cm on centre in each of the 117 mullions for a total of 7,020 Pixels and more than 280,000 individual LEDs. 

The secondary lens was about 10cm wide and 2m long and was extruded to slide onto the mullion cap. LightWild initially created seven different light transmission versions of the lens for review by the architects and owner. The lenses were installed on a working 4-metre tall façade mockup at the job site and reviewed at multiple angles, at various times of day, and during sunny and cloudy weather conditions prior to a curved lens with a maximum 88% light transmission being selected. 

For installation and maintenance advantages, LightWild received the mullion cap from the fabricator and designed and delivered a complete 2-metre long fixture with all LED lighting sources, drivers, wiring and optical lenses included to the job site. The installer was then able to quickly connect from fixture to fixture during installation across the façade. 

In the course of working closely with AEG in the development of the façade lighting, LightWild was awarded an additional lighting application in both the main and VIP lobby entrances to the arena. The arena’s founding sponsor, O2, utilises bubbles in their branding. To emulate the bubble theme, the lobby designs include thousands of frosted glass circles uniformly spaced in blue aluminum wall facades.

Behind each circle, we utilised a 19-RGB LED LightWild Pixel to create dynamic, animated walls with a high-energy feeling as you enter the arena. In addition to the approximately 3,900 Pixels for the walls, LightWild also controlled almost 600 fluorescent blue and white fixtures in the ceiling for a coordinated all-encompassing lighting effect.

The arena façade and lobby installations are controlled by LightWild networks, transmitting DMX signals over Ethernet to the LED fixtures. The DALI protocol is used to control the ceiling fluorescent fixtures.


O2 World Arena, Berlin O2 World Arena, Berlin
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