Defacing Buildings with Lighting

Home Forums Ireland Defacing Buildings with Lighting

Viewing 14 reply threads
  • Author
    Posts
    • #707220
      GrahamH
      Participant

      Just seeing the News there and the restoration of Ennis Courthouse, I see a cancer that’s spreading across the country has now reached the west coast – new forms of lighting technology that’s being allowed to deface the country’s historic buildings. And at Ennis, like many buildings in Dublin, the prime culprits are those terrible steel lighting strips being planted into the pediments of classical structures to make them glow after dark, and often above string courses etc as well.
      The courthouse at Ennis is a particularly dark grey structure where the shiny steel is clearly evident – perhaps not from a casual glance, but anyone with an appreciative eye will note how damaging it is.
      Other examples in Dublin include the Westin, where in College St another strip is propped outwards on brackets in front of its most impressive pediment, and its other facades are littered with silver floodlights.
      O’Connell Bridge is apallingly defaced with the lighting strips and countless other brackets, spotlights, junction boxes and yards of cabling all laid inches away, and on top of, some of the most detailed stonework people are likely to see up-close in Dublin.

      At Leinster House, shiny silver uplighters have been planted at the bases of its columns; on Dame St the shiny strips have been tacked onto the red sandstone bank building there, and on most of the city bridges either the silver strips marr softened early 19th century granite, or the most incredibly ridiculous of all – little spotlights angled out on long brackets with a string of wire coiled out the back, illuminate the carved keystones of the arches, often obliterating the very view of the things!

      The whole point of cut stone is just that, it is cut, carved skillfully, to be appreciated either at a relative distance, or up close so the detail can be appreciated. It is scandalous that any old cut stone should be so callously disregarded by any modern paraphernalia, especially that which serves no purpose other than to light structures for a few hours at a time when a comparitively tiny amount of people withh see them compared with the day.

      I think the same treatment has been given to Dundalk Town Hall, and I can certainly see it happening with the GPO in Dublin, especially considering how mainstream floodlighting would be difficult (but not impossible) to implement here, and the crude lighting ‘extravaganza’ the CC would probably want to see introduced as the focal point of the plaza.

      The best way of lighting of classical structures is to keep it simple, illuminate from afar, or in limited circumstances where some uplighting may be effective – the lighting modules be concealed within the structure, even then they are rarely effective, look at the mess they make of Stormont.
      A classic good example is Government Buildings, very simple, allowing the architecture to be fully appreciated. The Ntl Museum & Library have almost identical basement voids, perfect for similar lighting treatment.
      I know I’ve mentioned half of this before , but seeing it speading is very irritating, especially cause no one else seems to have a problem with it – bit like PVCism πŸ™

    • #744105
      d_d_dallas
      Participant

      Graham, I think the Westin lighting job is superb. True there has to actually be equipment mounted to actually illuminate the building (!), but the effect at night I feel is to accent the cut stone beautifully. The building has a dual indentity (day + night). I prefer that lighting job to the near sodium floodlight overkill that seems to be the course of action elsewhere (BOI – cough)

    • #744106
      GrahamH
      Participant

      πŸ˜€ The BOI should be lit in pure white light from behind the columns instead of the nasty sodium, indeed they should consult with Trinity on matching white schemes for the benefit of College Green at large. Also those distant spots that blast the portico with white light almost to melting point should also be toned down. This is a far superior way of lighting pediments from an architectural perspective, instead of sticking equipment infront of, or on top of the very features being illuminated – another example being Gandon’s niches under the House of Lords portico which could do without a floodlight nestling in each!

      There is no doubting that the Westin looks great at night, indeed it is one of the few buildings where so many spotlights work well, and its corner site is perfect for a night-time ‘set-piece’, but the shiny silver spots against the red stone facade during the day are too much, directly beneath many fine carved pieces. The floodlights on the Portland stone facades are much more discreet however, sited on cills etc.
      My main concern though is the silver strips on other buildings, where they almost become part of the architecture by following string courses and mouldings, but destroying the delicacy and lightness of the carving in the process. I know I’m sounding petty, but it’s largely cause I can’t remember the terrible jobs I’ve seen about the place! Must start taking notes…

    • #744107
      BTH
      Participant

      I agree that much of the floodlighting of buildings in this country is incredibly insensitive, particularly when it comes to attaching light fittings and cabling to beautiful stone facades… What is wrong with the much simpler method of attaching high powered spotlights to lamp-posts, aiming them at the buildings and allowing the architecture to speak for itself. This is the method generally used in both Paris and Barcelona and I’m sure in many other cities and it works perfectly…

    • #744108
      Plug
      Participant

      Whilst I agree that the majority of buildings in Dublin are lit appallingly, to say that the best way to light a building is from afar is such a blatantly sweeping statement that it’s laughable.
      It’s tantamount to me (not an architect)saying that the best way to finish off a building is to clad it ip pebble-dash, a satement that If I made here I think would be seen as either a joke or an example of gross ignorance. There is no hard and fast rule for lighting buildings of any kind other than, from my point of view, be as sympathetic to the archtecture as possible, and try and show it off in all it’s full glory.
      Isn’t it a shame the OPW never ring me.

    • #744109
      GrahamH
      Participant

      What I mean about afar is not to attach spotlights etc to major classicals merely for the effect the light creates such as streams of light cast upwards between windows etc, which disregards the building as a whole, and which often make a structure look messy and cluttered. Diffused light from a relative distance, or even close up if it is distributed well, as a general rule is more sympathetic to the architecture of such major buildings – generally, which I should have said before.

      Of course it is all about considering the architecture and context, something which is never done in this country, and different treatment works for different buildings. A major gripe is that little details are often lit, but look ridiculous in the context of the whole structure. I mean the Custom House is a classic example I think where simple broad diffused light works well (albeit appallingly executed), and the silly spots casting a different colour temperature onto the pediment be done away with, they are trivial and not consistant with the lighting of the building as a whole. It’s such a shame it’s not properly lit considering the magnificent job the OPW carried out. The same goes for Leinster House and others.
      In contrast, the OPW job on Govt Bldgs works well because it doesn’t indulge in such inconsistancy.
      Another gem is the BOI Arts centre on Foster Place with two simple floodlights behind the twin columns, that play on their bold profiles and cast menacing shadows, simple and effective.

      Detailed lighting using modern methods does of course work, but it’s being increasingly used just because it’s possible.

    • #744110
      Plug
      Participant

      So what you really meant to say, was “defacing buildings with lights” , maybe ?

    • #744111
      GrahamH
      Participant

      Or should that be lamps – thought you lot got very exercised over that? πŸ™‚

    • #744112
      Plug
      Participant

      Nah mate, has to be “luminaires” to get us really excited πŸ˜‰

      or to quote one lighting suppliers website “the street is lit with specially imported Italian luminaries”

    • #744113
      GrahamH
      Participant

      Oooh – very fancy πŸ™‚

    • #744114
      Devin
      Participant

      Originally posted by Graham Hickey
      O’Connell Bridge is apallingly defaced with the lighting strips and countless other brackets, spotlights, junction boxes and yards of cabling all laid inches away, and on top of, some of the most detailed stonework people are likely to see up-close in Dublin.

      I agree totally with what’s been said with regard to insensitivity of lighting and especially attachment of lighting fittings and cabling to stone facades in this country.

      Some of the ‘Millenium’ lighting of Liffey bridges a few years back was very insensitive. And the lurid green colour used was tasteless.

      Queen Street bridge (official name ‘Mellowes Bridge’) – is the most classically distinguished and – in my opinion – most beautiful of all the Liffey bridges. Its facades should not be touched. But square-profile metal bars carrying cabling were attached to the outside of the balustrade plinth and fiddly spotlights were put on the piers in the space above the niches… It made me want to cry!

    • #744115
      GrahamH
      Participant

      Whereas some aspects of this project are effective, notably the balustrade illumination (were the strips not so evident), as a whole, what we got was not worth the £1.3 million spent on it. The horrible green is the worst element (and it clashes with the orange of the balustrading), and certainly it is seconded by the too-obvious methods used for lighting – surprising considering it was designed by a specialist lighting company, who one would have assumed as having a greater respect for what they were illuminating.

    • #744116
      Plug
      Participant

      I don’t know if you’re aware of this but there was a plan for lighting all the bridges for the mellenium that was to involve a “spectacular” light show that swept up and down the river every night at a pre-proggrammed time. The OPW spent a fortune bringing in a Brazilian Lighting designer to work on this. I personally spent some time bobbing about on the river demonstrating various “moving head” fixtures for him. As far as I’m aware everything was ready to go until the aformentioned designer insisted at the last minute that to properly view the show all the streetlights down either side of the river had to be doused for the duration of the “spectacular” at this point the OPW said something along the lines of “don’t be so feckin’ daft” and he said “well feck ya’s then” took his design fee and legged it (I’m paraphrasing)
      This all happened at the eleventh hour, and they’d already spent a massive amount on this Brazilian dude, so they approached Philips and from what I can gather just said “listen, we’re in a jam can you just sort something out for us thats relatively quick and cheap.
      Understand this is only my interpretation of the events, as relayed to me by various people that where involved.

    • #744117
      GrahamH
      Participant

      Interesting, never heard about that. Well to cut the quay lights would indeed have been ridiculous, perhaps desirable for a one-off event but entirely impractical to happen daily!

      I’ve read that while Philips designed it, it was executed on site by the CC Lighting Division – so something of a contrast between their initiative to have the magnificent O’Cll Bridge lanterns restored and their lighting of the bridge itself.

    • #744118
      Morlan
      Participant

      Slightly off topic this but does anyone know why there are seachlights mounted on various building on the quays? Some sort of special event or just another waste of money?

Viewing 14 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Latest News