Urban infrastructure turned into art
The Optic Cloak in London, UK
Exploring the intersection of lighting, design, engineering and ecology
Greenwich Low Carbon Energy Centre provides district heating to 15 000 new homes at Greenwich Peninsula, a whole new residential development in London. The 40 meter tall sculptural chimney of the energy centre becomes a striking feature and a landmark to residents and visitors approaching the area. Light Bureau collaborated with British sculptor Conrad Shawcross on the lighting design of the chimney. The structure’s interplay with artificial and natural light creates varying degrees of transparency and camouflage of the internal flues by exploiting the moiré effect that occurs between the perforated metal panels of the chimney cladding. Sunlight and variations in weather give the structure an ever-changing appearance during the day, whilst at night-time, artificial lighting is designed to turn the sculpture into an abstract weekly calendar.
Due to the special nature of the project, Light Bureau designed an expanding bracket for the spotlight luminaires to give the installation complete flexibility and allow the fixtures to be moved and fixed at any location along the vertical H-beams of the structure. This allowed full-scale light tests to be carried out and mounting positions to be tweaked according to the findings. Precise adjustability and optical control were key in order to focus the light towards the perforated metal panels and avoid illuminating gantries, stairs, ladders and the flues. The light scenes designed for the tower plays with the transparency and solidity of the structure and a new composition is visible each day of the week.