European Lighting Trends – July/August 2019 Newsletter

I have just returned from a wonderful holiday overseas after our cruise in the Adriatic Sea which included spending a lot of time in Madrid, Spain and several other cities within easy travelling distance from Madrid.

Naturally, I took every opportunity to look at the latest lighting trends and to take a close look at how the lighting was installed at the different places that we visited.

One of the stops during our sea cruise on the Adriatic Sea included a visit to Diocletian’s Palace, a palace built for the retirement of a Roman Emperor named Diocletian.  He regarded himself as a god because his father’s name was Jupiter, the highest possible Roman god.   It is an amazing old place still in good condition where the stones for the domes were held in place by using a mixture with eggs.  The lighting in some of the dark spaces is very subtle and effective and does not detract from the atmosphere or age of the place.

The final destination of our cruise which visited a number of ports, was Ancona, Italy.  Our visit to the Frasassi Caves which are about 60km from Ancona city, was the highlight of the cruise.  The caves were discovered in 1971 and opened to the public in 1974.  Access into the caves is through airtight remote doors at either end of a man-made entrance tunnel.  Only one set of doors can open at a time in order to ensure that the temperature in the caves is maintained at 14 degrees centigrade.  The walkways are fenced and where they pass close to stalagmites, glass walls ensure that visitors cannot reach them and cause damage.  The stalagmites and stalactites are still growing.  There is constant dripping throughout the caves.  The public are guided through the first 5 chambers by expert guides who are themselves scientists.  The total length of the caves is about 30km.  The lighting is so magnificently done.  It is controlled via motion sensors to ensure that the lighting is only activated while visitors are present.  Whilst I am a proud South African, our Cango Caves are not nearly as stunningly beautiful as the Frasassi Caves.  Perhaps, the Frasassi caves which are really a recent discovery, have enjoyed protection which our Cango Caves have suffered human damage over the many years.

It was most interesting to look at the M30 Motorway in Madrid.  This is a 14 lane highway which is the inner motorway of the three orbital motorways around Madrid city.  Clearly, standard street luminaires simply would not light 7 lanes from the side of the motorway.  Floodlights mounted at about 18m high are angled to give sufficient light coverage across the lanes of the motorway without undue glare or discomfort for drivers.

I have often written about over-illumination of interior spaces in South Africa.  We visited the National Museum of Natural Science in Madrid.  It was so refreshing to see how the use of subtle but effective lighting was used to illuminate the various displays.  One of the displays that featured prominently, was a display about plastic which is choking our oceans and harming the precious natural resources and fish stock.  It included the use of harmful fishing methods.  The focus was on conservation and trying to bring about an end to the use of plastic packaging!

On the subject of retail illumination, my digital meter is always at hand when I am out and about on holiday.  We had occasion to go shopping in H & M, Primark, Zara and Ulanka stores in Grand Via, Madrid. In every instance, except for an area in H & M where the surface reflectances were very white, the maximum illumination that I measured in any of these stores was 800 lux.  I then ask myself and you the reader, why do our retailers insist on illuminance levels in excess of 1000 lux which result in shop ceilings being littered with downlights whereas there are far more effective ways of illuminating a retail store and at the same time create special interest areas with accent lighting occasionally rather than accent lighting everywhere.

The medieval completely walled old town in the city of Avila is worth a visit as it is the only complete original walled town in the world.  The town dates back to the 5th Century BC and the wall was built in 1090.  This impresses me, what the meaning of old is.  The walls have been beautifully illuminated by iGuzzini using 3000K LED luminaires, just so appropriate to show off this historic UNESCO World Heritage site.

Special notice was taken of how the exterior architectural lighting was executed at the Alcazar in Segovia. It is a magnificent place to visit, taking you back to the time of knights in suits of armour.  The Alcazar is a walled fortress.  The exterior is illuminated at night using a variety of lighting techniques including flood lights, projector lights, wall washers and down lights.  Other interior lighting of ancient buildings included the the Visigoth Church of San Milan which began in the 6th Century AD.  The church was built in 1055.  Over-illumination would desecrate such places, so it is commendable that very subtle and appropriate lighting was used.  The Catedral de Segovia was built in the early 16th century.  It is the only cathedral that I have ever visited where one is able to go into each of the chapels which are located around the outer walls within the cathedral.  The chapels were beautifully lit and were linked to occupancy sensors.  The chapels were only illuminated upon entering.

The Aqueduct in Segovia.  Built by the Romans in the 1st Century AD without any mortar or cement.  It is 813m long.

Finally we visited Alcala de Henares which is located about 35km from Madrid.  It is the birthplace of Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote where his home is now a museum.  There is also a famous university which was established in 1662.  Yes just think about that, 10 years after Jan van Riebeeck arrived in the Cape.  It is also renowned for its world class Faculty of Architecture.

I hope that you have been stimulated to look differently at every lighting project and that you treat each individually rather than trying to use a “one size fits all” approach.

Welcome to the following new students:

  • Eric Barnard, Afrison, Centurion – BHASL018: Online High Level Relux Course
  • Sharron Burger, Giantlight, Durban – BHASL003C19: Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering
  • Mark Reid, Lamps ‘n Lights, Swaziland – BHASL003C19: Advanced Diploma in illumination Engineering
  • George Du Toit, Smart Spaces Theatre & Automation, Cape Town – BHASL003C19: Advanced Diploma in illumination Engineering
  • Minette Hattingh, Mhatti Architects, Lady Grey – BHASL003C19: Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering

Please join us to wish the following students, graduates a very happy birthday!

  • Renske Snyman, student, Cape Town – 1 July
  • Hardus Pieterse, student, Centurion – 2 July
  • Liam Abrahams, ex-student, Cape Town – 3 July
  • Tammy de Oliviera, student, Cape Town – 4 July
  • Hendrik Chandler, ex-student, Mossel Bay – 5 July
  • Kean-Paul Muambayi, student, Cape Town – 6 July
  • Johan Massyn, student, Randburg – 8 July
  • Clive Townsley, Graduate, Gaborone – 16 July
  • Elizabeth Kahwenga, ex-student, Centurion – 17 July
  • Sharron Burger, student, Durban – 18 July
  • Francois Joubert, Student, Orania – 20 July
  • Daniel Hammond, Graduate, Cape Town – 21 July
  • Travis Booth, ex-student, New Zealand – 22 July
  • Leonel Esteban Garcia Nunez, student, Mexico City – 23 July
  • Lynette Jeppe, student, Bloemfontein – 24 July
  • Kubeshan Gopaul, student, Johannesburg – 28 July
  • Jacobus Fouche, ex-student, Cape Town – 29 July
  • Gareth McDonald, student, Germiston – 1 August
  • Lukas Wayiti, student, Windhoek – 1 August
  • Jan-Hendrik, Verdoes, graduate, Windhoek – 2 August
  • Thabit Ryklief, ex-student, Cape Town – 2 August
  • Hendri Havenga, student, Pretoria – 6 August
  • Jade de Pontes, student, Gerniston – 6 August
  • Renaldo du Pisanie, graduate, Windhoek – 10 August
  • Ryan Moolman, ex student, Durban – 13 August
  • Pieter Meyer, student, Port Elizabeth – 17 August
  • Dominic Oliver, ex-student, Cape Town – 27 August
  • Adrian Silberbauer, ex-student, Somerset West – 30 August

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Student News

Chaitanya Dang, an architect and a fellow student from Raipur, India received a scholarship to participate in the Lights in Alingsas workshop in Sweden.

The workshop week begins at 9.00 am on Saturday, September 21, 2019 and ends at 3pm on Saturday, September 28, 2019.  His scholarship includes the workshop and accommodation.

Congratulations on the achievement.  I am sure that you will benefit from the wonderful experience.

The theme of the 20th edition of Lights in Alingsås is: “BE THE LIGHT”.

Here we go again! Just in time for the 400th anniversary of the Swedish town Alingsås, it’s time for the 20th annual light event, Lights in Alingsås. Just like last year, it’s organised by Alingsås Energi. The event opens to the public September 27th, and the preceding week we will host our international workshop for invited lighting designers and students from all over the world. This year’s theme is called “Be the light”, and is intended to inspire visitors to become ambassadors of light and make the world a little brighter for the people around them.

“We’ve had excellent feedback from this year’s Workshop Heads,” says Event Manager Angelica Larsson at Alingsås Energi. “We’re firmly convinced it’s quite easy to make the world a little better through small, consistent efforts, and we hope that our ‘Be the light’ theme will spread that idea far and wide.”

“Be the light” as a concept was developed by advertising agency Femti5. “It’s a manifestation of the Eleanor Roosevelt quote about how it’s better to light a small candle than to curse the darkness,” explains Creative Director Christer Andersson. “It’s a powerful and evocative idea that we believe can spread and be very effective. Even if only a few percent of the 70,000 visitors make an effort to Be the light, it could have a significant impact locally as well as globally.”

If other students are interested in applying to participate in the 2020 workshop, click the link here to find out more

Sandra Chavarro, is an industrial designer and fellow student from Bogota, Columbia.  She has a Batchelor’s Degree in Industrial design and a Master of Arts degree in Design graduating from the FNWH (University of Applied Sciences and Arts), Basel, Switzerland.  Sandra is passionate about music and loves to sing, non-professionally.  Sandra is currently attending an Opera Master Class with the Russian sopranos Marta Deyanova and Marina Shguch at the Prague International Opera Singing Masterclass.

We all hope that she enjoys every minute at the Masterclass and to being tutored by such renowned opera singers.

Johan Swart, an architect and fellow student from Durban.  Johan is battling illness.  I respectfully ask all of you as fellow students, to keep Johan in your thoughts and prayers.

Casambi and Seoul Semiconductor Leverage Their Edges to Create Human Centric Lighting Solutions

Casambi, the expert in wireless lighting controls based on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), has teamed up with Seoul Semiconductor to provide lighting designers with precision control of LED lights that match the spectrum of sunlight. The development puts true human centric lighting in the hands of designers for the first time.

Casambi’s wireless control technology can now be used with Seoul Semiconductor’s innovative SunLike Series LEDs, whose spectra match to real sunlight, to realize human centric lighting.

“Human-centric lighting” describes lighting that is designed to work with the human body’s natural rhythms. It relies on the fact that the human eye detects the presence of a particular wavelength of blue light in the spectrum that makes up sunlight, and uses this to judge what time of day it is. In this way, light helps regulate our sleep–wake cycles and other bodily rhythms, and has a significant impact on our mood and wellbeing.

SunLike series LEDs by Seoul Semiconductor deliver spectrum of sunlight and thus provide similar biological stimulus. Several researches revealed that SunLike LEDs provide up to 21% more stimulus than conventional LEDs at a color temperature of 4000K, and the same stimulus as daylight at 6500K.

(Image: Casambi/Seoul Semiconductor)

The partnership of Casambi and Seoul Semiconductor now provides lighting designers with Bluetooth-based wireless control system and app with products containing SunLike Series LEDs to precisely adjust the level of light, putting human centric lighting into practice.

Timo Pakkala, co-founder of Casambi, commented, “Casambi’s partnership with Seoul Semiconductor puts power into the hands of the lighting designer, who can use their expertise to decide how to customize the lighting to the needs of the particular application and the users of the space, and plan an effective human-centric solution based on the latest science.”

Conservation of our Planet – Embracing New Technologies

Whilst this does not directly focus on lighting, I want to share my observations overseas with you.

Energy efficient non-polluting transportation is prominent in Spain.  This includes electric commuter city buses, electric cars, electric ride-on scooters and electric cycles.  These have been growing in numbers since around 2014 when I first saw them.  A recent addition is the electric scooter, the type that we used as children.  You can rent electric cars, ride-on electric scooters cycles and scooters from Uber, Taxify and others.  Of course public transport in all of its forms is prolific which eliminates the need for a car.

Even long distance travel can be done using overland commuter trains (180kph), overland regular trains (200kph) and the Ave High Speed train (310 – 360kph).  The alternative is the extensive and prolific overland bus service.  We used one of these buses which are exceptionally comfortable with each seat fitted with a 7 inch screen for entertainment, route maps and wi-fi service.  All of these means of transport are very affordable and efficient.  Perhaps even more important is the fact that they are ALWAYS on time.

I was astounded at how far behind we are in terms of refuse separation so that recycling can be possible.  In Madrid, large bins are located throughout the city each with a different purpose.  Separate coloured bins provide for Kitchen waste i.e. food and vegetable cuttings, left-overs and for plastic, paper, cans, glass bottles, cardboard.

The photograph above shows the six bin receptacles for the different categories of waste.  The big bins are underground below each of the receptacles shown.  The large purple/pink sphere is exclusively for single use plastic such as water bottles.

Most of the retail stores and supermarkets provide either multi-use bags similar to those offered by Woolworths or Pick ‘n Pay stores or branded paper bags which can take up to 15kg of groceries.  All of the large clothing retailers now only use branded paper bags.  The Spanish way of eating out seldom gives rise to the need for a takeaway container.  The only time that we found that need was when eating pizza in an Italian Restaurant in the city.  The left over pizza is put in a box and then into a carrier back of the type that one would purchase at Woolworths.  Obviously the bag is also branded.

Supermarkets such as Carrefours and Lidl now only provide branded paper bags.

It is a common sight in Spanish cities to see men and women of all ages going to do the grocery or fresh shopping trailing a shopping trolley which retails for around R850.00.  It has a part for frozen or cold items.

Supermarkets even provide lockable in-store “parking” for customer shopping trolleys until they are needed at checkout time.  By the way, there you pack your own shopping after paying whilst the cashier rings up the items for the next customer, slipping them into a second bay on the checkout.

Carrefours, Spain are soon to introduce a store shopping trolley that will follow the user by locking on to a smartphone app to make shopping more enjoyable!  Of course, it is fun and a pleasure to use their shopping app as my students learn in 2nd year.

Becoming a senior citizen has many distinct advantages in Spain.  We visit all of the museums and galleries, in most cases, free of charge and in other instances for a very minimal entrance fee.  We always pay for the use of digital guides which make use of Indoor Positioning Systems to determine the location of the particular user to then present a visual and audio guide about the display or artifact that the user is stationary and looking at.

Finally, lighting is discreet, extremely efficient and visually appealing whilst providing sufficient, effective lighting in these very high consumer traffic stores 7 days of the week.  My wife and I have been to Spain a good number of times.  I have observed the way that new technologies are being embraced.  It was only on this holiday that I specifically and consciously paid attention to lighting wherever I went.  I have already given you insight into lighting in my lead article.


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