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Galleria Burgas, Burgas, Bulgaria

Issue 69 Oct / Nov 2012 : Architecture : Retail : Mall

ARCHITECT: Studio 17.5 LIGHTING DESIGN: Lighting Design Collective

Lighting Design Collective has created an immersive lighting experience for Galleria Burgas shopping centre in Bulgaria with light and colour to redefine the ambience of the space.

The opening of the Galleria Burgas in the Bulgarian city of Burgas on the southeast shore of the Black Sea marked the arrival of the city's first international style shopping and entertainment centre. Managed by developer GTC, the new 53,000 sqm site is one of a chain that spans ten countries across the region.

The Galleria Burgas complex follows a traditional rectangular layout, with a looped internal avenue that links together the two ‘court' spaces positioned at opposite corners of the site. The three floors include fashion outlets, a supermarket and food court, as well as a ten-screen multiplex cinema. Although comprising many familiar shopping mall elements, GTC wanted to avoid the stark, anodyne feel that characterises many similar schemes. To help achieve this, consultants Lighting Design Collective (LDC) were brought in to advise on the best use of both natural and artificial lighting.

LDC's scheme uses a ‘holistic branding' approach - a coherent lighting ethos, applied to the whole development, that creates a comfortable ambience in which visitors become immersed. This overall scheme is then adapted to suit the different uses within each individual zone.

The visitors' experience at Galleria Burgas was envisioned as a ‘voyage' through the space, with points of discovery and surprising visual twists built in along the way to elicit a subtly shifting emotional response. In practice, this meant integrating all

aspects of the architecture, marketing and lighting design into a seamless whole.

"We approached this project from a cinematic perspective and used theatrical concepts and techniques to turn simple architectural details into elements of visual wonder. This creates a space rich in emotion," explains LDC director Tapio Rosenius.

LDC began with the daylight design for the project, locating skylights strategically to create particular daylight and sunlight effects. In the food court, for example circular skylights with decorative timber cone features were introduced to bring light down into the dining area.

LDC carried out daylight penetration studies for the main public areas - in particular in the avenue hallways and court atriums - to create a full understanding of the daytime character of these spaces. Artificial lighting is kept to a minimum and, where extra illumination is required, cove lighting and recessed downlighting fixtures are hidden discretely within the architecture. In this daytime mode, coloured light is avoided completely.

At sunset, the artificial lighting fades up, dramatically changing the look and feel of the interior. The main source of illumination comes from cold cathode strips that backlight the 600mm-deep Barrisol bands that run throughout the mall, positioned on the vertical face of the bulkheads separating the different levels. These bands work on a twin lamp system, combining yellow, orange, lavender and pink cold cathode lamp options to create the desired effect.

This was supplied by Kemps Architectural who - as a last minute replacement for the previously contracted supplier - had just eight weeks to deliver the entire lighting schedule. The Kemps team attended site in the depths of a Bulgarian winter to carry out two separate mock ups with Rosenius and the client team in attendance.

Cold cathode was also used for the indirect ceiling cove lighting present through all of the public spaces. In total over 4km of cold cathode was manufactured and supplied by Kemps.

The contractors were so pleased with Kemps' approach that they asked them to act as procurement agent for much of the lighting on the project. Consequently, the UK-based team were responsible for sourcing all the downlighting in the mall - namely Lucent and We-ef, installed in low level soffits throughout. They also built and supplied an Arcylic Square fitting with a central Phillips 6W LED supplied for use on the main lift tower.

In the Cinema Court, the atrium space in the Northern corner of the complex, Martin Professional moving head fixtures were installed. Preprogrammed using a Martin Lightjockey desk, they are timed to mimic the movement of people within the space. Different chase sequences are played throughout the day, some aimed at floor level to engage young children, encouraging them to follow the pools of light that move around the space.

There are also colour-changing CITY-CYC RGB LED fixtures, supplied by Pro-Technica Bulgaria, installed around the edge or the ceilings in both atriums to create large-scale wash effects on the canopies that stretch across the space.

A similar system is applied to the entrance canopies. All are programmed to provide dynamic effects that change not just throughout the evening, but also adapt to reflect the changing seasons. In practice this means there is a whole year's worth of transition effects in the system.

The notion of ‘transition' was a key element of the lighting concept. Visitors experience a constantly changing visual flow: a shift from a very natural daytime look to the more colourful nighttime scenes; the dynamic lighting in the atrium spaces; and, as visitors walk through the complex, the subtle differentiation between the various zones from the North Mall to the South Mall. The latter - the use of a tinted light strategy to differentiate areas - was developed partly to aid way finding and to make the navigation through the mall as intuitive as possible. The South Mall has gradients of oranges, ambers and yellows whereas the North combines pinks and purples. Colour combinations and gradients were pre-tested at LDC's Madrid office using a full-size mock-up.

LDC has also ensured that flexibility is designed into the lighting system, enabling the operator to brand and transform the key public areas quickly and inexpensively using the existing backlit surfaces, moving light projectors and coloured lights.

The project lighting also meets the LEED Gold rating requirements for sustainability and reduction of light pollution.

For LDC, the project allowed further development of brand and identity related lighting concepts. The focus was on the experiential quality of the space, the goal was to create distinct memories whilst providing a backdrop for lifestyle retail, all targets that were successfully achieved on the Galleria project.

"We are great believers in the emotional power of light and colour," says Rosenius. "The feedback has been great. Nobody likes the overlit and cold shopping malls anymore. These buildings are about lifestyle, people need to feel comfortable."




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