The lighting in this lane changes as you walk through it

Opera House Lane used to be the type pf pathway people would avoid at night. It connects Wellington’s central area of Cuba Street and Te Aro Park with the Waterfront area where the National Museum, theatres and restaurants are found, but the lane itself was dark and unsafe. Wellington City Council wanted to change that, but it didn’t just put up more lights; the council used the opportunity to create a space that was different and engaging.

The Council, which is also currently considering a major, smart LED streetlight upgrade for the city, opted for an interactive LED lighting scheme with presence sensors that trigger a number of different scenes depending on how many people are in the lane and what time of day it is.

The scheme is made up of a series of moving head spotlights and an eye-catching chandelier made with translucent sheets of kaynemaile, a locally manufactured chainmail mesh made of polycarbonate rings that can refract and reflect light.

 ‘The flexibility and adaptability of variable lighting output from a moving head added much more than just light and colour – it provided a basis for future integration with events and possibility of interacting with people in more ways than simply illuminating surfaces,’ explains Pontus Hammerbach, an associate lighting designer at Architecture and engineering firm Stephenson&Turner.

The pedestrian lighting is provided by iGuzzini Maxiwoody LED luminaires mounted five meters above the ground on an outrigger arm. The lights give some vertical illuminance on surrounding walls but have been placed with great care to avoid light projecting into the windows of nearby apartments.

"The use of moving head spotlights is quite unique for public, urban spaces"

Pontus Hammerbach

The chandelier is illuminated with LED spotlights from Lumascape. The dynamic lighting is provided by Martin Professional moving head fixtures sealed with outdoor enclosures. A Cue Server at the centre of the installation arranges the light scenes according to time and the number of people.

‘The use of moving head spotlights is quite unique for public, urban spaces,’ says Hammerback. They may have been used in public squares or theme parks but rarely as a means of improving the experience in a narrow transport route. ‘