Up at The O2 offers visitors climbs up and over the top of one of the most iconic structures in the world; The O2 in North Greenwich, London. Designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, the walkway consists entirely of tensioned fabric and steel wires, suspended above the tent structure from The O2’s distinctive yellow masts. Spanning the tent’s 365m width from south to north, and reaching 52m above the ground at the observation platform in the centre of the roof, the climb provides excellent viewing opportunities over London throughout the day and into the night.

2022 saw Up at The O2 celebrate both its 10th birthday and 1,000,000th climber. To mark the milestone, a new lighting installation was commissioned to illuminate the walkway and enhance the sunset and twilight ‘after dark’ guest climbs.

Taking the brief and expanding the concept to ensure that it became a new, fitting part of the London skyline, a ‘near view’ and ‘far view’ approach was taken with the lighting. Taking into account the surrounding areas – including the iconic Canary Wharf with its lit up skyscrapers – the ‘far view’ of the lighting in the context of the entire tent structure had to be as effective as the ‘near view’ for people on the walkway. Keeping both in mind throughout the design process meant the experience for climbers on the walkway would be enhanced, unique, interactive and exciting, while ensuring the lighting would not detract from the London views that visitors experience and supplement the skyline from afar. Concert goers and nighttime visitors to The O2 also share the new lighting experience, being alerted to the presence of Up at The O2 as a visitor attraction.

The resulting design uses 1074 frosted, colour mixing RGBW dots of light, spaced evenly along the suspended structure of the walkway. The dots are mounted on three types of custom brackets symmetrically down each side and around the observation platform. Each dot is individually addressed and controllable, allowing solid colours, flowing gradients of light and dynamic effects to be played over the entire diameter of the tent. The walkway lighting is complemented by RGBL colour mixing lighting at the start platform, for a complete visitor experience from the moment they don their harnesses for the climb.

For folk on the walkway, the experience is one of lighting playing around them; colours and light moving with them and past them as they climb. For those further away, the pitch of the dots means the lighting becomes less pixelated and more a continuous line of flowing light; one that holds its own even under the bright lights of the city surrounding it.

Using colour mixing lighting allows creative theming; O2 brand colours feature heavily of course, but the lighting can also reflect key colours for charity and awareness days, seasonal events such as an icy sparkling Christmas theme for late 2022 climbs, and also programmed to complement concerts at The O2, such as for Blackpink’s London performances in December 22.

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