ERCO provides LED architectural lighting for the ancient Imperial Forums in Rome

May 26, 2015
One of the most prestigious LED architectural lighting projects to be realised in Italy in recent years has been completed – the relighting of the ancient Imperial Forums in Rome premiered on 21 April 2015, right on time for the city’s birthday. The project was planned by noted lighting designer and Oscar-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. The lighting tools were supplied by ERCO.

The ancient Imperial Forums in Rome are a prominent archaeological site in the “Eternal City” that enjoys a rich and unique heritage of art treasures. The monumental public squares, once surrounded by majestic buildings, were constructed in the early imperial period as an extension to the Forum Romanum. Each named after the emperor who built them, the forums today may look like a disorderly collection of ruins, yet they still hint at the past glory and architectural splendour of this ancient metropolis.

The night illumination of these formidable monuments was in need of an upgrade, requiring a new technical concept and lighting design. To that end, the institutes responsible for the forums commissioned internationally noted lighting designer Vittorio Storaro to come up with an innovative artistic approach to the illumination of three imperial forums: for the Forum of Augustus, the Forum of Nerva and the Forum of Trajan with its famous Column of Trajan. For Storaro, who made a name for himself as a cinematographer winning as many as three Oscars with “Apocalypse Now”, “Reds” and “The Last Emperor”, light is central to his life’s work. His design concept is based on the idea of writing with light to tell a story. Special focus was given to differentiated lighting that brings out the various textures of the ancient squares and their defining architecture. For the implementation of his concept, the doyen – respectfully dubbed “maestro” in Italy – secured the assistance of his daughter Francesca Storaro, an internationally recognised architect and lighting designer.

The relighting specifications for the three forums posed a significant challenge to the lighting concept. The context stipulated use of the latest and most efficient LED luminaires for maximum luminous efficacy with minimum energy consumption. Equally, the clients attached great importance to the long life of the luminaires. Their primary thought, next to ensuring a sustainable investment, was to keep any necessary maintenance in this archaeologically sensitive area to an absolute minimum. The prime concern for the Storaros, meanwhile, was optimal implementation of their design concept, which required lighting tools with flexible yet precise light distributions.

Given these factors, the decision to realise the prestigious LED architectural lighting project with ERCO luminaires speaks for itself. It confirms once more the excellent quality of ERCO products with respect to the criteria driving this decision. For the relighting of the Imperial Forums, Vittorio and Francesca Storaro selected projectors, floodlights and wallwashers – Lightscan, Parscoop, Grasshopper and Beamer – alongside Lightscan and Focalflood façade luminaires from ERCO’s extensive range of outdoor lighting tools. With different levels of luminous flux, the luminaires create a hierarchy of architectural details. Combined with the interchangeable ERCO Spherolit lenses, which enable individual and precise lighting solutions with six different light distributions, the result is a differentiated concept that achieves the high standards required by a narrative lighting project of such complexity.

Pinpoint lighting accents and the uniform wallwashing of structural elements direct the view of the visitor. Special attention is warranted for the grazing light of Focalflood, which emphasises the texture of the ancient ruins strikingly for an almost three-dimensional effect. The specific use of neutral white and warm white light gives prominence to the architectural structure of the Imperial Forums. Luminaires with neutral white light illuminate the architectural elements peculiar to each forum, such as remnants of the large temples or the Column of Trajan. Warm white light is used as a contrast for all other objects and surfaces. This is one more aspect of ERCO LED architectural lighting technology that offers designers complete peace of mind: Thanks to the strict selection of only the best LEDs, ERCO lighting tools guarantee optimum colour consistency.

Project data
Project: Relighting of the Imperial Forums
Fori imperiali, Rome / Italy
Lighting designer: Vittorio Storaro, Rome / Italy
Francesca Storaro, Castel Gandolfo / Italy
Photographer: Frieder Blickle, Hamburg / Germany


Nina Reetzke, Press Officer - ERCO GmbH

Web site:
Submit new products, case studies/projects, and other press releases at and