The Lava Tunnel, Iceland
SPACES: Best Landscape Lighting Scheme – High Budget
These magnificent tunnels are the result of massive eruptions 5.000 years ago. Dimensions of the tunnel create an impressive room space. A decorative collage of colours shows the unique character of the tunnel, proclaiming the story of its mineral origins. Near the entrance of the tunnel the ceiling has caved in, creating three beautiful columns of light inside the tunnel
The total length is an impressive 1360 m and one of the most expansive lava tunnels in Iceland.
Environment in the tunnel is difficult for lighting and electrical equipment. From the entrance and to the middle part of the path, the temperature is the same as outside.
Where the openings are in the ceiling, it rains and snows inside the tunnel. This part of the tunnel can be treacherous when temperature is getting below 0°C, because of icing that will cover every stone in path. In the wintertime, this part looks like scenery from some fantasy with Ice stalactites and stalagmites carefully lit up. Deeper in the tunnel the temperature holds even, around 5°C.
With the help of lighting, the magnificent colour palette in nature, gives the guests an unforgettable experience with almost none visible lighting equipment’s or cables interfering with the experience.
From the very beginning, the aim of the lighting design was to maximize the guests experience, develop a strong interaction between contrasts, light and shadow to intensify the natural colours.
As well as emphasize the geological highlights of the tunnel that was pointed out in collaboration with a geologist. Build up an experience from the entrance to a peak, at the end stop 400 m inside the tunnel, where guests gain experience of a complete darkness and total silence for one minute. As only exceptionally sound from water drops breaks the silence. After a minute, the lighting goes on in steps and illuminates the highlights one by one, while the guide explains the geology of the lighted spots.
For every location that is lit up, there was chosen suitable light fixture both in lumen output and beam angle. Aimed, focused and the colours adjusted for the most natural outcome for each location.
At the end stop, the most difficult task was to find spots to mount the lights because the platform is very wide and takes most of floor area, and the walls slopes in over the platform.
Lights where placed under the platform and on rock sills, high up on the walls, with a good help from rock climbers and placed out of line of sight.
The pathway lighting was designed to fit the environment. Low light bollards of steel were constructed so the material rusts in line with the bridges and platforms in the tunnel. With a high focus on lighting the paths without stealing any attention from the attractions and to prevent glare.
Most of the work was on the location; finding the right places, testing equipment and final design during the installation phase and programming of the control system.