This project is the lighting of Scotland’s unique asset -The Falkirk Wheel – a global icon of contemporary Scotland. It is the world’s only rotating boat lift, a unique visitor attraction on Scotland’s Canals and world-renowned engineering design. The result is a bespoke, flexible, dynamic and autonomous installation which accentuates this remarkable piece of engineering and design, whilst maintaining the overall impact and composition.

The lighting design celebrates the forms of the structure and enhances its presence within the landscape. The new lighting enables the visitor experience to be extended beyond daylight hours of operation, facilitating national light-up events and activity after dark – (to date we have recognised The Marie Curie Covid National Day of Reflection, Earth Hour and Strathcarron Hospice, British Heart foundation 60th Anniversary).

We wanted to create a beacon – to enhance the sense of sense of arrival and extend the use of the site during the winter months and after dark – with opportunities to create images and experiences which didn’t exist by day – to enhance the visitor experience.

Our lighting design took inspiration from the Engineering and Architecture of this unique structure and the surrounding canal environment: Our aim was to celebrate the organic flowing forms the structure , by being able to visually separate each of the component parts – the rotating wheel. Spindle, gondolas, aqueduct support, hoops and tunnel – in ways that could relate to each other and also overlay textures, patterns, effects and sequences.

Each light or projector, and each of the tructural components can be controlled in isolation – creating a dynamic canvas for different colour combinations, effects or sequences.

With digital lighting and controls we can vary the colour, intensity or direction of light and introduce shapes, patterns and textures which are tailored to the flowing forms of the architecture. We use a combination of static, dynamic and rotating overlays (to convey the rotating movement of the wheel. All of this is complete;y autonomuys but can also be controlled by an intuitive user interface that enables easy and flexible programming.

The 180m long Roughcastle Tunnel links the Union Canal onto the aqueduct, providing a dramatic moment along the canal network. Naturally a dark space, the new design provides an immersive experience with dynamic and responsive lighting. The standard lighting mode is deliberately set to low and is activated an illumination sequence when a person approaches (by boat, foot or cycle) – this is energy, safety and environmentally aware. A vibrant wash of colour ripples across full length of the tunnel in a rhythm that connects visually with the ribcage structure of the Wheel hoops further along the aqueduct.

The project is environmentally conscious, using minimal energy, minimised lightspill, and was designed and delivered to a specific budget and within fairly short timescales over the winter months – (with the added challenges of a global pandemic, lockdown restrictions, newly imposeed Brexit legislation and some fairly challenging weather conditions)

The result is a very flexible, dynamic and autonomous installation, which can also be tailored to suit specific events or occasions.


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