The new lighting for Antwerp’s cathedral was inaugurated on September 1, 2018 by the mayor of Antwerp, Belgium, Mr. De Wever, in presence of 30.000 people. The project was designed and carried out by Studio Susanna Antico from Milano, Italy, having won the international competition launched in 2016.

The cathedral is one of the prime European examples of Gothic architecture with its listed UNESCO World heritage sites’ belfry tower elegantly rising 123 m. above the flat Flanders’ landscape of the city and its suburbs, crossed by the river Schelde, becoming, since the middle-ages, an orientation point of reference, visible from vast distances.

Beyond the usual hurdles of lighting historical heritage sites (aesthetical, physical and technical strict limitations on mounting luminaires, brackets and wiring) this cathedral presented increased design challenges because of its asymmetry (one tower half the height of the other), its proximity to the buildings surrounding it – many of which are, themselves, protected and listed historical sites, the need to finely balance luminances throughout the structure, different parts of which are visible from different view-points in the entire city, and to sort the myriad of details to be emphasized without them distracting from the general perception of the majestic features and proportions of the building.

The assignment also naturally entailed designing the new lighting for the surrounding pedestrian medieval streets and public spaces as well as for most historical Dutch façades.

The lighting is managed by a DMX controller with software developed specifically for this project that allows for various night scenes (also enabling further energy savings) and for pre-programmed different scenes for special events and holidays.

All in all, the entire energy consumption of the installed project has reduced by 40% compared to the old HPS remote flood-lighting, despite increasing tenfold the number of luminaires, with an exciting result, a magical inspiring changing vision from 360⁰ around the cathedral and from great distances, a creation of an inviting and comfortable public space at ground level around the cathedral with an elimination of glare and a strict minimum of light pollution.

The Belgian media has praised the result of this project elaborated by Arch. Susanna Antico from Susanna Antico Lighting Design Studio, in collaboration with Arch. Gad Giladi, Lighting Designer and with the input of Arch. Helena Gentili, Lighting Designer, Arch. George Balan, Lighting Designer and graphic designer Mathieu Cieters.

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