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Arup Lighting's Bridges, Singapore, Hong Kong & Australia

Issue 58 Dec / Jan .2010/11 : Architectural : Transport

Lighting Design: ARUP LIGHTING

Florence Lam, global lighting leader for Arup, gives an insight into the glittering world of bridge lighting and the design opportunities that arise from the use of LEDs.

In the right hands, lighting can become the fourth dimension of architecture, integrating and enhancing designs from hotels and fashion stores to aquariums and bridges.

Architectural lighting has made leaps and bounds in recent decades and bridge lighting is no exception. Advancements in technology now allow us to use bridges to explore lightness and mass, sculpture and scale.

Through a number of recent projects, global design firm Arup has demonstrated to the world how, after dark, lighting can add a sense of magic to bridges and invite us to return to encounter a different, yet fascinating, experience.

Through bridges such as Helix, Kurilpa and Stonecutters, the play of light and shadows allows these structures to be expressed as simple line geometry and brings life to the landmark by night.

A world first – Helix Bridge, Singapore
Singapore’s Helix Bridge is a key landmark of the Marina Bay precinct and its design inspired by the geometric arrangement of DNA, a symbol of continuity and renewal, with a walkway encircled by opposing double helix structures of stainless steel.

At 280 metres long, the curved double-helix bridge is part of a 3.5 kilometre long waterfront promenade and provides pedestrians a direct connection between Marina Centre, the waterfront area and Marina Bay Sands integrated resort. Next to the Helix is a new six lane vehicular bridge that has a simple, elegant design forming the backdrop to the Helix bridge.

Engineered to support more than 10,000 people at any one time, Arup designed the bridge’s two delicate helix structures to act together as a tubular truss. It is the first time in the world this double-helix structural solution has been applied to a bridge.

The Helix is created from two separate spiralling steel members held together by a series of delicate connecting rods to form a rigid tubular structure – like two springs wrapped around each other in the opposite direction, one inside the other. The bridge uses five times less steel than a conventional box girder bridge, and the frame supports the pedestrian deck, shade canopies and light fixtures without the need for a secondary structure. The end result is a visually appealing structure that is highly functional while using minimal resources.

While the structure was designed to be a landmark by day, it is the lighting that steals the show at night time, making it a visual spectacle seen from any location around the bay.

Arup’s lighting designers emphasised the DNA-inspired design through a series of dynamic multi-coloured LED lights installed on the helix structures. The outward-facing luminaires accentuate the sweeping structural curves, with another discreet array of lights illuminating the internal canopy of glass and steel mesh to create a dynamic membrane of light. The inner helix uses white light to illuminate a path for pedestrians.

The latest LED technology was chosen for longevity, recyclability and for the flexibility of being able to offer more than 16 million dynamic colours.

When triggered via an intelligent control system, the dynamic lighting sequences accentuate the members, revealing the long sweeping strands as they intertwine along the bridge’s length. The lighting is programmed so that a variety of colours and dynamic sequence effects can be implemented for different events and festivals. Careful placement of luminaires ensures that energy requirements are kept to a minimum – and there is not a single luminaire on the entire bridge that consumes more than twelve watts of power.

The art of tensegrity
Lighting of the new Kurilpa bridge over the Brisbane River in Brisbane, Australia, offered its own particular challenges to Arup’s designers.
The 470m long multi-mast, cable-stayed pedestrian and cycle bridge is the result of a two-year creative partnership between Cox Rayner, Baulderstone and Arup – a leader in the advanced geometry required for tensegrity-inspired structures.

Inspired by the concept of tensegrity, a modern art form and structural system that enables the creation of something very lightweight but incredibly strong, it is the world’s first ‘tensegrity’ bridge.

Our lighting designers played on the link between the bridge and the adjacent Gallery of Modern Art, lighting the bridge like a permanent art piece – expressing each of the structural elements with a complimentary glow.

The lighting creates interest for users and passers-by with an arrangement of LED luminaires programmed to produce an array of lighting effects. The scheme can be tailored to cater for events, festivals and sport and is one of the world’s largest bridge LED lighting installations.

During the early evening hours the bridge is lit by white light; it is only later in the evening that its full impact is felt, with the bridge revelling in eye-catching dynamic effects visually expressing each of the masts stretching out to the heavens.

One of the main considerations was how to light the architectural and structural features of the bridge in a way that would enhance the strong vertical mast features and the suspended tensegrity structural span beam elements. The accent lighting design uses the most up to date LED technology, and is claimed to be one of the largest installations of this type currently in the world. From a technical perspective, the key objectives were energy efficiency, maintenance and the control of light to avoid it spilling onto adjacent buildings.

The LED spotlights provide high efficiency optics which in turn enabled the designers to use lower wattage luminaires and reduce energy. Lamp life is much longer than other light sources - a major advantage for maintenance where access is difficult. With the excellent optics available for the LED lamps the designers were much better able to control the light. Each of the luminaires contains an array of red, green, blue and white LEDs, offering more than 16 million hues. Additional white LEDs allow a brighter white light; they are able to switch on instantly to 100% and are fully dimmable.

Light emitting diodes used to be a gimmick but now are a serious option for many solutions. The possibilities are endless and lighting designers are only limited by their imagination. Further benefits from using LED light sources come from the energy savings, reduced annual running costs and minimised maintenance. Photovoltaic panels are installed on the Kurilpa Park ramp canopy to offset the energy required by the LED accent lighting.

The project is owned by the Queensland State Government – built at a total cost of approximately US$56 million, the delivery was managed by the Department of Public Works. 

Sophistication in Hong Kong harbour
Stonecutters Bridge is the world’s second longest spanning cable-stay bridge, with a main span of 1,018m. The bridge is situated in one of the highest profile locations in the world, the centre of Hong Kong harbour, straddling the Rambler Channel at the entrance to the Kwai Chung container terminals, providing a landmark gateway to Hong Kong, one of the world’s most vibrant trade centres.

With a highly distinctive form, its key design features include the steel main span that is supported by two 290m tall concrete and stainless steel towers and a 53m-wide deck split into two streamlined boxes and connected by cross girders.

The simple yet elegant lines of this bridge are picked out with crisp cool white light to reinforce their beauty and the simplicity of the bridge structure against the backdrop of the local golden night sky.
The lighting scheme is based around three key architectural elements: the tower beacons and light strips; the tower pylons and the cross-girders. A wash light with colour temperature of 4,000K+ is projected on to the face of each tower, with arrays of metal halide projectors equipped with narrow to medium beam optics, starting at the deck and tapering off towards the top and base of the tower. The cross girders are also lit to create a continuous, subtle glow of light. These form a neutral clarity theme as a backdrop for the occasional festive colour light shows.
The beacons and light strips on the monopole bridge towers are the two key architectural elements integrated with LED luminaires, allowing the creation of a dynamic colour palette of light to add a narrative dimension to the bridge at night. The translucent glazed screens on top of each tower are back-illuminated with LED projectors fitted with vertical wall washing optics to create the beacons. A combination of wall grazer and ‘direct view’ LED luminaires built into each light strip provides a distinct delineation to the strip and broaden the viewing angle for these from afar.

The design of the architectural lighting reflects the prevailing night-time conditions of the bridge’s surroundings, in particular the intensely-lit cargo terminals nearby.  The day-to-day base lighting scene has the LEDs programmed to cool white colour, such that elegant lines of this bridge are picked out with crisp cool white light to reinforce the beauty and simplicity of the bridge structure against the backdrop of the golden night sky of Hong Kong.

A key element used to convey different messages in lighting schemes is colour: red is associated with happiness, prosperity (in Chinese culture), excitement, energy and power; while gold and silver are associated with wealth and prosperity. Various display sequences of complimentary colour patterns were explored as a narrative to express the characteristics of Hong Kong. It is a place which offers a diversity of experiences; a place where east meets west, blending Chinese heritage and British colonial influences.

With a separate theme, gold and silver were chosen to express its place as a financial city in a metaphorical way. The LED luminaires are programmed to illuminate all light strips and the beacons in golden yellow, and the lighting sequence is set to create a pulsing effect along each strip. White light elements propagate up and down the defining edges of the light strips against the predominantly golden yellow lights.

The architectural lighting over the entire bridge is programmed to switch on at dusk and be switched off at a set time after midnight. The cross fading of colour lighting in the light strips and beacon that is controlled by Digital Multiplex technology, is programmed to express the characteritics of the city with special light shows on festive occasions.

The speed of the fade is preset such that the dynamic effect can be seen from afar but is not a noticeable distraction to anyone driving across the bridge.


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