This artistic light is designed as a permanent decorative installation for the forecourt of Orientkaj Station – a newly established metro station in the northern harbour of Copenhagen, an area currently undergoing significant urban development.

The municipality’s local building requirements demanded the installation of safety-enhancing basic lighting for the square. In addition, an artistic lighting solution should be developed for both the square and the elevated railway. The basic lighting was provided by pole mounted spotlights.

After the completion of the square, By & Havn (City & Harbour), tasked Light Bureau to develop the site-specific artistic lighting design. In collaboration with By & Havn, COBE architects, and the Municipality of Copenhagen, Light Bureau began exploring possibilities for adding a lighting installation in the finished square.

The station square (designed by COBE architects) is cast-in-situ concrete. This made it impossible to have in-ground fixtures or new poles. Installation of fixtures on the elevated railway structure was not permitted either so the artistic lighting could only be established on the existing poles.

Several lighting solutions were considered, but none of them worked properly from the 5 meters poles close to the elevated railway. This challenge led to the idea of “Hacking the light” by developing specially designed elements for the poles. These elements should have an artistic daytime appearance and add interesting light patterns to the space at night using existing poles and fixtures. The new lighting solution should furthermore enhance the feeling of safety and the visual appeal of the forecourt.

With minor adjustments, it was possible to reuse the existing LED-luminaires, and after several physical and digital prototypes, a solution with adjustable reflective steel leaves with individual patterns and colour themes was chosen. The leaves filter the light downwards onto the square and reflect some of it back onto the elevated railway.

The leaves feature four different themes, all inspired by the overarching narrative of “the old freeport”, referring to the harbour’s historical function as a duty-free zone for goods from around the world. The identity-creating themes draw inspiration from the old timber and harbour cranes, the waves of the open sea and the rings in the water in the enclosed basins between the new buildings, linking old and new, near and far.

The steel leaves give the otherwise ordinary spotlights a completely new and unique character, boosting the visual appeal of the urban space.

The design softens up the bright spotlights and adds a playful atmosphere, while improving perceived safety and wayfinding on the square.

There are plans to extend the elevated railway to the outer northern harbour of Copenhagen. The artistic lighting solution can easily be adapted to the new construction and extended, should the municipality choose so.

There is a significant potential in the design as it is a simple add-on to the spotlight solutions that are widespread throughout modern cities.

Other urban spaces can be illuminated using the same principles, creating unique night-time identities without the need for new fixtures, poles, or increased energy consumption.

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