In the heart of a mountainous region in eastern Taiwan, architecture and urban planning studio Michèle & Miquel, in collaboration with dA VISION DESIGN, has brought to life a unique experience: The Dark Line, a cycling route through the mountains. This project embraces the region’s past, marked by the railway lines that once powered the coal industry, to create an eco-historical route that connects old roads and abandoned infrastructures. The Michèle & Miquel studio took the decision not to restore the tunnel with one objective: to make a discreet, “natural” intervention that would respect the history of the site.

The concept guiding The Dark Line’s lighting project is to “feel the tunnel”, rather than simply illuminate it, creating more of an experience than functional lighting. With lighting levels of 10 lux, exceptionally low inside, the tunnel becomes a magical place where light highlights the walls and the path, allowing the imagination and the senses to be awakened. The interior surface of the tunnel is subtly illuminated, the light surrounds you, creating a sensation that resembles a walk in the open air. The focus is on highlighting the walls to clearly define the tunnel, creating a strong visual impression of the tunnel concept, in which the pavement feels floating. The perimeter and sides are carefully delineated with light, ensuring that the path can be followed precisely.

The lighting design achieves a seamless continuity between the daylit sections and the interior sections. Walls are illuminated to create a sense of openness and visual connection with the outside environment. The resulting visual experience is more pleasant, comfortable and safe. This approach also creates a scenographic effect: an experiential path where areas lit by natural light and areas of artificial light are contrasted, creating different perceptions. The floor is open and permeable, with slits and steel lines more than a centimetre apart, revealing water and pebbles. Inside, the lane is illuminated only by reflected light and outside, it contrasts negatively with nature, becoming the dark line that connects everything and gives the project its name.

The project is materialised through the arrangement of a chain of continuous lighting pixels under the walkway, which generates a uniform light bath on the walls. In addition, the lighting is modulated by sensors to save energy and adjust to the presence of people.

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