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French Pavilion, Shanghai World Expo, China

Issue 56 August / September 2010 : Architecture : Pavilion

ARCHITECT: Jacques Ferriers JFA LIGHTING DESIGN: George Sexton Associates PICS: iGuzzini / (c)Jacques Ferrier architectures/photos Luc Boegly

George Sexton Associates’ scheme for the façade of the French Pavilion drew inspiration from the temporary nature of the Shanghai Expo. With its waterside location, the structure sits like a cruise ship in dock, floating aside the other pavilions, which have similarly arrived from locations around the world. It was a metaphor that in turn led to ideas about travel and luxury.

Translating this concept into an exterior lighting scheme, the team opted for specially designed candle-like fixtures on the façade’s lattice structure. Together with designers from iGuzzini they developed a custom application of a standard fluorescent energy saving lamp with an E27 screw base and integral ballast. This simplified the installation and kept the total power for the façade at a minimum. The luminaires have a half round shield to minimise glare to the front and to kick light onto the façade of the white box within the lattice frame.

Although LED technology was considered, George Sexton Associates remain unconvinced by the technology’s stability. In addition to this, the usual cost-saving implications of LEDs’ long lifespan offered no benefit for a six month event such as this, making them an unnecessarily expensive option.

“In general, we wanted a straight forward solution that was easy to install and maintain and that would be cost efficient and energy efficient,” says principal lighting designer, George S. Sexton, III. “In the case of the ‘candle light’ we know that compact fluorescent would provide all of this and is a tried and tested technology.“

The placement of the light was critical in properly highlighting the three dimensional quality of the frame. The custom fixtures were located at the base of each diamond of the latticed structure. Because these diamonds vary in shape as you move up the façade, the team designed an adjustable bracket, thus ensuring the lamp is in the same position regardless of the diamond’s dimensions. A diffusing glass over the lamp creating the soft candle glow, which was emphasised by the 2,700K colour temperature of the lamps. In any area where visitors are able to see the back of the luminaires, such as the roof top restaurant and the entrance escalator, the perforated glare baffle encloses the luminaire fully.

Inside, the exhibition is a mixture of projected images, demonstrations, and interactive areas. The exhibition path starts at the top of the building and spirals down to the ground level. Views from the building to the hanging garden meant that careful control of daylight was required to work with the films and projected images. The team used metal halide downlights to provide a pool of light on the floor and enable easy navigation. A compact fluoresecent system for cleaning, security and emergency use was also installed, though this remains off during exhibition hours. The exhibition also had a number of small gallery spaces themed around the five human senses. The lighting within each was tailored to the particular architecture of each gallery.


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