Broadgate - Finsbury Avenue Square

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The City of London's financial district of Broadgate now boasts one of the most striking and sophisticated lighting features in the World. It consists of a large in-ground array of colour changing lamps, laid out in a semi-symmetric pattern. The array uses over 650 individually controllable light modules, each providing independent colour mixing. The set effect is a dynamic floor of colour providing effects ranging from subtle moods of colour to dynamic animation.



The concept was designed by Mark Ridler at Maurice Brill Lighting Design. Mark called in Artistic Licence to implement the concept and Artistic Licence was commissioned to develop, manufacture and install the system at Finsbury Avenue Square.
In the early stages of discussion, it became clear that LED was the only technology able to fulfil the design brief. An installation life in excess of ten years was required. Low maintenance and low power consumption were also key considerations in a project of this scale. LED technology fitted the bill along with lending itself to the requirement of colour changing.

The Artistic Licence Projects Division rose to the challenge. It was clear from the outset that a custom lighting fixture would be required. The final design was based upon the use of custom aluminium extrusion, providing mechanical protection and thermal management for the optics. A specialist glass company was contracted to bond the architectural glass to the light fixture achieving the required effect that only glass be visible from the surface.

The fixture design provided numerous technical problems! Or in the parlance of Artistic
Licence: Opportunities to Excel! The physical size of the lighting array precluded the conventional approach of centralised dimmers and 'dumb' fixtures; cable voltage drop would have led to variation in fixture brightness. The concept of an intelligent lighting fixture was the only real option. With a lighting fixture buried in the ground and only glass visible from the surface, how would we access the fixture electronics to configure the DMX address and so forth? The fixture was to be waterproof the IP68, could we risk an access cover for the controls?

It soon became clear that a control mechanism more powerful than standard DMX512 would be required. Around that time, Artistic Licence was very heavily involved with the ESTA standards programme. A new standard called RDM or Remote Device Management was being conceived. RDM was to provide a new method of controlling intelligent fixtures and allow attributes such as DMX base address to be remotely programmed.

Even though RDM was still at the concept stage, Artistic Licence committed to using RDM for the Broadgate Project. Not only did it obviate the need for access covers, but it also provided new features such as the ability to upload software to the fixture and retrieve sensor information.

In large architectural projects such as Broadgate, fixture sensors can be a huge benefit to maintenance management. Imagine having advance warning that a fixture may need maintenance. Three sensors were implemented; for temperature, input voltage and moisture.

Use of the new RDM protocol for control had a significant impact on the entire control system and data distribution infrastructure.

A new breed of DMX512 splitter was designed, allowing both DMX512 and RDM data to flow over the same cable. The Art-Net Ethernet standard was upgraded to provide a transport mechanism for the new types of control data.

The control system or lighting console was the final opportunity to excel. A conventional memory console could have been used, but the task of programming the matrix of lamps on a console that understood only channel numbers was considered too greater burden. Had a conventional console been used, there would still be a requirement for a separate computer system for RDM configuration and sensor monitoring as there are not yet any production consoles that support RDM.

A number of years previously, Artistic Licence had worked with Charlie Kail at Brilliant Stages to design a control system called Lamp-Tramp. It was conceived to control two dimensional arrays of intensity lamps and received much acclaim on the Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge and Pink Floyd Division Bell tours.

The Lamp-Tramp concept was updated to develop a new system capable of controlling colour changing fixtures. Colour-Tramp was born!

Colour-Tramp is a new breed of lighting controller that communicates via the Art-Net Ethernet standard and implements all the functionality of Remote Device Management. This allows it to operate as both a lighting controller and an installation management system. One screen can show a topographic output mimic of the lighting whilst another shows sensor status of all the fixtures.

During installation at Broadgate, the favourite function was 'Auto-Patch'. At the press of a button, all 650 fixtures are programmed such that their start address matches the patch. Imagine how many days of DIP switch setting that saved!

Colour-Tramp also provides email reporting functions on the status of the fixtures. This allows concepts such as statistical analysis of fixture temperature over a period of time.
The Finsbury Avenue Square project represents the very latest in lighting technology.

Statistics:
Total Fixtures: 650
Total LEDs: 100,000
Total Channels: 1,650
Total Aluminium Extrusion: 1,000 m
Total Power: 23,000 W
Control System: Colour-Tramp x 1
DMX Distribution: Iso-Split RDM x 9
Ethernet Distribution: Ether-Lynx x 2

Credits:
Client: The British Land Corporation
Lighting Design: Maurice Brill Lighting Design
Lighting Equipment Design: Artistic Licence
Executive Architect: Skidmore Owings & Merrill
Electrical Contractor: Meica Services
Development Management: M3 Consulting
Program Management: Bovis Lend Lease

AWARDS
IALD Award of Excellence 2004
LIF Exterior Lighting Category 2004
IEIJ Japan Exterior Lighting Category 2004
FX Awards Highly Commended for Best Office or Public Lighting Scheme 2005

Finsbury Avenue Square won the exterior category for what the judges called quite simply "one of the outstanding schemes of recent years", and, "a technically demanding creation".

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Products used in this project...

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1 x Colour-Tramp 4U, £2,180.00 - View » - Add to cart »

Control software for 2D/3D colour or intensity arrays. 4 Universe Output.

 

1 x Micro-Scope 3a, £395.00 - View » - Add to cart »

The worlds best selling DMX512 and MIDI tester.