Luxembourg Freeport

Luxembourg Freeport


Interior and exterior custom lighting project
Designer: Johanna Grawunder 
Production developer: IMDA
Lighting produced by Light Contract (Flos) / Federico Cittadini 
Building architect: Carmelo Stendardo/3BM3 Architecture, Geneva
Wall Art: Vhils

For the Freeport Luxembourg we wanted to use the very sculptural, hard concrete and glass architecture designed by 3BM3 like a base canvas for a defined program of reflection and light. 

The interior lighting is comprised of what I call “tags”. These large flat panels appear as mirror by day and enhance the natural light in the building, which comes through the huge skylights and slot perforations in the façade.   At night, the Tags become luminous light fields, warm and strong, with a halo of blue to enhance the geometric effect. The Tags are scattered around the large lobby and reception areas; in corners, under stairs, sometimes mounted horiziontal on the ceiling, in a way that gives light as well as shadow and creates a dramatic effect of “chiaroscuro” rarely seen in large institutional buildings. The Tags are programmed to slowly come on as the darkness arrives. Different panels glow on at different times depending on the position in the building.  

The Tags are augmented by a series of architectural lighting details including integrated handrail lighting and a full length green LED stripe down the entire length of the glass elevator, as well as a very few spot lights for good measure. But the main light source is the texture of Tags, like windows giving a large amount of light and high contrast to the concrete surfaces.

The exterior skin of the building is made of gabbions with rock and we took advantage of the basso-rilievo aspect of the facade to add nine-meter long stripes in polished stainless steel with very powerful LED up lights which wash light up the gabbions and play off the pattern. By day the stripes appear as mirror stripes and reflect the rocks and surroundings. 

I believe there is a place for light and the structure of light in architecture that works as a protagonist, not just a supporting player. Ironically, sometimes, the stronger the architecture the stronger the presence of the protagonist lighting may appear. Together, a sort of heightened awareness takes over. 

The architecture is very bright with natural light during the day. Two enormous skylights dominate the lobby area and smaller perforations in the façade bring slats of light in as well. In the summer, the space is flooded with dramatic light and shadow. It was very important for us to design lights that had some meaning in this bright daylight scenario; that contributed in some way to the full expression of the spaces when the light was off. By making the Tags (and the stripes outside) be mirrors by daylight, we created a series of reflecting surfaces, which scatter the natural light around the building in unexpected and delightful ways. The mirrors also do the work that all mirrors do which is enlarge spatial perception and create “holes” as well as infinity, depending on the positions.

Our client, Freeport Luxembourg, and specifically Yves Bouvier, supported and inspired the project by asking us to think in terms of art-design and sculptural light more than simply functional or even theatrical light. We wanted to make light light which was an object as well as a phenomena. 

This unusual lighting installation, designed with respect to the constraints of building regulations and norms, (which are not always so conducive to original products and attitudes toward lighting) were produced by Light Contract (Flos) in Italy