In 2008 the city of Mechelen, Belgium, issued a tender for a Lighting Masterplan concerning the downtown area and a new concept for the Christmas Lighting. Studio Susanna Antico won the competition.
Mechelen is located between Brussels and Antwerp. It is a typical lively Flemish small-size town, crossed by a river, with a round and well defined downtown area. It offers interesting vistas, a strong street pattern and a large number of historical façades that contribute to the atmosphere of the historical centre.
The Lighting Masterplan is the result of a detailed analysis of the city in all its aspects. The Masterplan calls for an emphasis on the strong presence of the ring surrounding the downtown area, the remains of the walls that used to enclose it, the strong entrance and exit axes’ system, the river Dijle and its banks. At night all of these, together with lit monuments, public art works, urban spaces, salient facades and other heritage sites will become an attraction and a guide for inhabitants and visitors, will boost the night-time economy and will highlight Mechelen’s identity when the guidelines will be implemented. It is structured in a series of superposed layers, dealing with specific elements present in each area. Besides the spatial structure, functional considerations play an important role and this is reflected in the zoning. The Masterplan calls for high colour rendering white light to be used throughout the city: an accurate perception is the basis for recognition of city elements at night and identification of true colours plays a key role in the sense of safety and security as well as a sense of well-being and comfort.
It requires that light and lighting equipment respect the architecture, the proportions and the materials while being functionally adequate and that the system be versatile and flexible enough to be used in various combinations, adapting to season changes and to major annual or one-off events while retaining its main characteristics.
The Christmas lighting intends to part from the traditional light strips stretched over decorative structures hanging above the streets and is planned to introduce new, conceptually and visually different lighting elements as well as sophisticated projections in various locations across the downtown area, some of which are static and others, dynamic while making use of state-of-the-art lighting sources and lighting equipment.
Susanna Antico Lighting Design
Technum Tractebel NV