Mindseye relights HSBC in Hong Kong

Mindseye and Illumination Physics have completely updated the façade lighting at Norman Foster’s iconic HSBC headquarters building in Hong Kong as part of the bank’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

The revamp has incorporated three large media walls to enable the bank to use the building as a vehicle for communication and deliver the most visible of the bank’s celebrations.

The stunning building had been the subject of a facade lighting project in 2003 which became ‘A Symphony of Lights’. HSBC HQ was one of 24 significant buildings that joined Hong Kong’s permanent nightly light show that year. Twelve years later, and Mindseye, as designer and supervisor, and Illumination Physics as supplier and installer, have brought the façade lighting up to date. With LED technology not an option back in 2003, a major technical makeover was required this time round.

The façade lighting accentuates the building’s most prominent feature – the exoskeleton. This is comprised of two ladder trusses which extend the full height of the building. Suspended from the ladders are the horizontal and diagonal brace elements of the exoskeleton which measure between 12 and 18 meters long.

Three types of wash lights were used on the façade;

  • Powerful narrow focus grazing wash lights for the main elements of the exoskeleton
  • A smaller asymmetric lens wash light for the ladder trusses
  • A wide angle soft flood light to illuminate the soffits of the prominent double height refuge floors.

“The new façade lighting is more accurate, the hues that can be created are far greater and the saturation of RGBW additive colour mixing is superior to the previous CMY subtractive filters used since 2003,” says Illumination Physics managing director Peter Kemp. “The energy consumption was reduced by approximately 90% depending on the lighting content that is being displayed.

"The design for the media wall equipment was to create a system that would be invisible during the day to avoid any negative effects on the appearance of the building," says Admir Jukanovic, associate at Mindseye. Furthermore, the media wall content needed to be legible from both a close distance of 100 metres and from the opposite side of Victoria Harbour, some 2-3 km away.

The team designed a media wall system that would be integrated into the glass facades between the refuge floors. The height of the glazed zones varies between five to seven floors. Three zones were chosen producing three large media walls which range from 880-1,100 square metres.

Specialist suppliers devised the content for the media wall. “Special content was produced which created an echo of the façade lighting effects,” says Kemp. “Triangular animations and kaleidoscopic patterns provide a synergy with the lighting as the lighting ‘reacts’ to the content on the media walls. Conveniently, triangles comprise the HSBC logo so there is useful branding in these integrated combinations. The logo theme has become enlarged and reflected by the way the entire building is illuminated at night.”

Control equipment sends a feed to a new smart phone application enabling views of the content being displayed in the palm of your hand wherever you are. Many tens of thousands of people view the HSBC building from Kowloon every night. With the HSBC App, one can combine a spectacular view of the displays across the harbour whilst simultaneously being able to see the finer detail of the more complex video displays in real time on their phone.

“This was been a project that could only occur in Hong Kong and with one building – a serendipitous collision of place, cultures, technology and architecture,” says Kemp.