07. Jul 2015

Dignified and economical

Photos: Dirk Vogel
Source: Erco

Standing proud as the third largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Duomo di Milano was completed in 1858 after nearly five centuries of construction. Yet to this day its restoration and maintenance remains a constant focus of the “Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano”, the historic organisation concerned with all operational aspects of the cathedral. For EXPO 2015 in Milan, the monumental church interior now presents itself at its most dignified – innovatively illuminated by local lighting designers Ferrara Palladino e Associati. Besides aesthetics, the clients based their decision on efficiency concerns: the LED lighting supplied by Erco provides the means to implement a complex lighting solution while helping the Veneranda Fabbrica reduce operating costs for maintenance and energy on a permanent basis.

This is an issue of key importance for the Veneranda Fabbrica in view of its formidable responsibilities and working with limited resources. The existing lighting system comprised 175 floodlights, each equipped with a 400W metal halide lamp, mounted to the base of the vaults at a height of up to 33 metres to deliver uniform, zenithal illumination of the interior. Arguably, the most economical solution in its day, the technology from today’s vantage point is outdated and the system lacked aesthetic appeal.

In the new lighting concept, LED luminaires solve a variety of different lighting tasks with suitably nuanced power outputs and light distributions. An investment in light quality that will pay off in the long run considering the energy savings achieved as a result. Whereas the old system used a cool light colour resembling daylight, the new lighting with neutral white LEDs in 4000K creates a more pleasant ambience and renders the surrounding surfaces natural in colour. The lighting concept forms a consistent hierarchy of perception by applying brightness contrasts in the room: discreet horizontal ambient lighting combines with brighter illumination for the vaulted ceilings, thereby reinforcing the sense of height and lightness as principal characteristics of Gothic architecture. Defined light accents direct the attention of the visitor onto the altars, pulpits and column capitals, which are richly adorned with sculptures.

The spotlights in the naves are mounted in the same positions as their predecessors, at the base of the vault. LED lenses project the light precisely without spill and, in combination with the significant height of the light sources, ensure good visual comfort. The luminaires are mounted on track and additionally secured with steel cables for safety purposes. During their installation, they were aligned precisely, locked in position with fixing screws and dimmed to the required level of brightness using the integrated potentiometer. The bottom line: a connected load reduced by around two thirds, from 70kW to 23.7kW, even if there are now as many as 784 luminaires.

Project data:

Client: Cathedral works organisation “La Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano”
Lighting design: Ferrara Palladino e Associati


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