HULL HAS used its year as the UK’s City of Culture to transform its urban centre – using light.
The ambitious project has seen 1.5 miles of its central public realm, civic buildings and historic monuments lit up to boost the night-time economy and reduce fear of crime and anti-social behaviour.
The main challenge, say city managers, was to deliver a design that worked across the full public realm and buildings. The scheme looked ‘to reset lost continuity in design’ following 70 years of regeneration, rejuvenating the visual environment and unifying the historic medieval old town with the post-war new-town districts.
In areas of more recent renewal, a ‘retain, reuse, repurpose’ mantra was adopted; ripping out and reallocating lighting equipment to better balance and improve the quality of the night-time environment.
The designers challenged the city engineers on how lighting would be applied to Hull’s public realm; enabling them to embrace an unfamiliar approach to urban lighting.
The design pushed beyond the functional, providing accent lighting to street furniture and soft landscaping, enhancing the textures and tones of the city fabric and creating inviting places for people to sit, dwell and enjoy the city.
The lighting strategy prioritised the lasting legacy of regeneration, creating flexible open public spaces to support a myriad of large and small-scale events.
This allows both permanent and temporary installations to be embedded into the city, from the spectacular temporary events of the City of Culture celebrations to permanent art installations by Tonkin Liu and Michael Pinksy.
Central to the lighting masterplan is a permanent light-art installation dubbed ‘Golden Hour’, imagined by the multimedia artist Nayan Kulkarni. Golden Hour is a city-scale integrated light installation that co-ordinates architectural, ambient and pedestrian lighting into a single entity.
Kulkarni formed part of the Arup-lead design team, with artist and designer working as one. The collaborative approach meant that the artwork was not a mere intervention applied to the scheme, but a harmonious integration within the city’s public realm lighting.
This cohesive integration expands to the innovative use of the city’s CMS control system. In what is thought to be a unique application, the street-scape lighting is able to respond to the artist intent, providing scene-setting on a city scale.
This enables visitors to transition from one part of the city to the next, curating their experience of the featured civic building or monument and providing scene-setting in its truest form.
Other significant challenges included enabling column-free public spaces to maximise flexibility, maintaining key sight lines of listed buildings and co-ordinating the precise positioning of lighting equipment to achieve the Golden Hour projections.
A cloud-based central management system (CMS) was introduced to the city, which allows the 720 lights to be controlled remotely by the local authority, aiding with fault detection and maintenance scheduling.
The system was adapted to provide enhanced luminaire level scene setting capabilities.
The CMS is linked to the art installation’s DMX lighting control network, providing control of over 100 individually-addressed 16-bit luminaires across the city.
Careful integration of the two control systems was key in curating all lighting by the Golden Hour control system across the city’s spaces, in what is thought to be a first-of-its-kind use of CMS and DMX control system within the public realm.
- Dan Lister, above, lighting associate at Arup, will explore the Hull project at a special presentation at 11am on 14th November at the Safer Cities Conference. The conference is one of eight conferences at this years LuxLive 2018 on 14th & 15th November at ExCel London. Entry is FREE with registration. See the full programme HERE
Pics: Breda Carlotta