Whether coming in to land on an evening flight or admiring a skyline from across the bay, there’s something quite magical about city lights. They can influence our feelings, our perceptions and even our behavior – often without us noticing.
“These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you”
(Jay-Z feat. A. Keys – Empire State of Mind)
You don’t have to look too hard to find songs that allude to city lights. They seem to possess a certain mysticism or romanticism that can indeed inspire us. Most importantly though, they serve functions. They can make us feel safe and secure; they can make a city marketable and they can accentuate architecture. But which takes priority?
“Oh you look so beautiful tonight...In the city of blinding lights”
(U2 – City of blinding lights)
Each city possesses one or many architectural showpieces: standout features that they are eager to accentuate. As darkness falls and the city comes alive, only those with exceptional lighting designs will continue to dazzle against the black skies.
Sometimes these showpieces are the tallest skyscrapers in the city; other times they might be bridges, plazas, stations or roads. “Whatever the project, we work closely with the architect to show how lighting can be integrated into not only the design, but also the building materials,” explains Alvis Fong of Traxon Technologies - an OSRAM subsidiary specialized in building façade lighting. “The lighting must accentuate the architecture but also be durable and reliable.”
“I'm a cigarette burnin' slow on a summer night, she's city lights”
(City Lights - Tim McGraw)
Such accentuating lighting can transform creative visions into unforgettable lighting experiences. Take the Shanghai Tower for example, a Traxon project. The world’s second tallest building (China’s first), standing at 632m is elevated even further by the light show that it boasts each night thanks to the 22,000 sets of LEDs on its façade and 6,500 downlights on the atrium.
“The Shanghai tower is an example of a perfect marriage of architecture and lighting – and how lighting can even tell stories,” says Fong. The building’s curved spiral facade for example, symbolizes the dynamic emergence of modern China and the complementary lighting solution matches this. “We can control lighting to match themes or times of year. We can set winter lighting, summer lighting or lighting for Chinese New Year for example. Lights give buildings character which in turn gives a city its character.”