Located in Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, Hallgrímskirkja is the country’s largest church and most famous landmark. The stark hexagonal form of the church is reminiscent of Icelandic nature, rough and pure. The church is not just a place of worship and community, but also an important hub hosting many cultural events in collaboration with the city and its institutions.

Designed in 1937 by Gudjon Samuelsson (d. 1950), Iceland’s state architect, the church’s iconic neo-gothic architecture is visible from almost anywhere in the city. The futuristic, yet timeless architecture was thought to be a progressive idea in the days of its making. Perhaps similarly progressive and bold was the decision made by the church administration in 2021 to commission the redesign and installation of a new lighting system to keep up with latest technological solutions and provide a smart wireless lighting ecosystem including LED luminaires, dynamic control options and sensors. An automatic lighting cycle adjusts to the winter darkness and saves energy throughout the brighter part of the year by applying dimming profiles as well as putting emphasis on the human factor with human centric lighting during its 24-hour cycle.

While respecting the architectural heritage, Nordic daylight cycles and functionality during the typical church service and opening hours, the lighting offers breath-taking dynamic lighting scenes for the public to enjoy during concerts, evening contemplations or cultural events, with the option of colourful lighting scenes.

The lighting design works in unison with the architecture to emphasize dimension, shape, and volume by visually broadening the church during community events and accentuating verticality in spiritual events. Furthermore, lighting is used to emphasize various key elements throughout the church. All of this is achieved with careful adjustments to intensity, temperature, and colour.

Luminaires are strategically positioned and aimed to be hidden to eyes of visitors when entering the space and not to visually disturb attendants of church service and events.

Throughout the church, warm light with 3000K CCT is used for all downlights, complimenting the church’s wooden elements, and creating a comforting atmosphere for contemplation. RGBW lights are used to light ceiling vaults, corridor walls and backlight the magnificent church organ. This offers endless creative options during special events as well as application of symbolic liturgical colours throughout the year. The luminaires also offer a tuneable white function to help adjust to the circadian rhythm of church staff and visitors. All light fixtures are grouped based on area of functionality but are also individually controllable via the wireless control system and therefore the lighting system provides many options for creativity.

The altar is the first element catching the eye when entering the church, it is illuminated with spotlights with a variable colour temperature so that it can stand out clearly regardless of the temperature or colour of other lighting in the church.

The other strong element visitors notice after walking into the church is the organ. Tuneable white light is used from the front, while RGBW accent adds dramatic effect as a backlight. The luminaires engage in a geometric shadow play, which changes with different light and colour combinations, to strengthen the three dimension of this magnificent church element.

A harmony between indoor and outdoor lighting is achieved by communication between the wireless indoor system and outdoor DMX system.

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