Lighting designer meets challenging deadlines to illuminate Sheshan Basilica
Thor Daniel Hjaltason has designed and planned the nest illumination of the exterior and interior of the Sheshan Basilica, a Roman Catholic Church in Shanghai.
The Basilica was built by the Portuguese in the 1800s. It was simultaneously undergoing a major renovation inside and out when Hjaltason examined the project. The plan was to have an opening ceremony by beginning of May 2010 at the time of the World EXPO opening.
Hjaltason and his son Tomas Freyr, a graduate from the Icelandic College of Art, finalized all visual illustrations by the end of January 2010. Hjaltason, together with Josef Fung and Chang Yan, presented a “green” and energy-saving RGB-LED solution to the mayor and other investors.
“The Basilica is a complex structure and we had to find an LED lamp manufacturer that was able to provide LED lamps that could do the job and would be delivered quickly,” said Hjaltason.
“Secondly, the scaffolding around and inside the church made lighting tests almost impossible – a major challenge for our entire team.”
“Thirdly,” said Hjaltason, “due to the fact that this basilica is considered to be a historic relic, we were not allowed to fasten any of the lamps to any surface of the basilica, which meant, no screws, no nails, no disturbance of the original materials on the basilica.”
Several fixture types were used. Color Reach RGB fixtures illuminate the church tower, the dome and the statute of Mother Mary on top of tower. This 290-watt fixture has an 8-degree beam angle for long reach and power, and also for long-reach sharp washing effect up the high tower walls.
Color Blast 50-watt fixtures with a 10-degree beam angle were used to achieve and sharp, clear beams for the ground structure, as dramatic effects were needed. Also, Color Blast 23-degree fixtures were used for the roof to spread the light effectively.
The arrangement enables changes in the color of the roof, dome, balconies, church structure and interior and windows.
“We want to give credit to the dozens of Chinese workers who worked day, and night so that we could complete our job,” said Hjaltason. “We especially want to give praise to our main assistants, Tomas Freyr and Charles Miao who were instrumental as designers and project managers in completing this project on time.”