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Licht Kunst Licht creates Woven Light Poetry for a New Landmark in Luxembourg

The Gasperich Water Tower: Function and Fresh Elegance Combined

After two years of construction, the spectacular building was handed over to its purpose in the summer of 2018 – with a height of 68.5 m, it is the highest water tower in the country. It offers an astonishing volume of 1,000 m3 and stores the drinking water for the districts Cloche d’Or, Cessingen und Gasperich. Located at the intersection of the motorways A1, A6 and A3, a node for travelers from Luxembourg, Belgium, France and Germany, the new water tower takes center stage among the surrounding industrial and commercial buildings by virtue of its impressive visual presence – during the day and at night. The lighting concept developed by Licht Kunst Licht considerably contributes to this appearance by rendering the texture and color of the exterior building envelope palpable.

The prevalence of water towers, poetically referred to as “chateau d’eau” in French, is a special feature of Luxembourg’s infrastructure. Conceived as water reservoirs and well buildings, they ensure the potable water supply in this hilly landlocked country. Simultaneously, they act as landmarks and signposts, providing orientation and identity for locals and transients alike.

An excellent quality of drinking water is of great importance to the public, since drinking water originates directly from natural sources and is distributed to the consumer without further chemical treatment. Water towers ensure free access to clean potable water through the storage of large quantities thereof. As such, the towers can be considered a built “promise” of the municipal water suppliers to the consumers.

Synthesis of Function and Elegance

Just outside of Luxembourg City, the new town quarter Ban de Gasperich is being developed as a new home for a multitude of buildings and uses. Early surveys revealed that the capacity of the nearby water tower “Tubishaff” in Cessingen would be exhausted and would therefore require the construction of a new reservoir.

As a result, an architectural competition for a new tower was launched, and in 2013 the architectural office Atelier d’Architecture et de Design Jim Clemes S.A. (since October 2017 Jim Clemens Associates) from Esch-sur-Alzette emerged as the winner. Their design envisions shrouding the functional core with a seemingly dynamic mesh of flat, white coated aluminum ribbons, that cloaks the concrete wall at a distance of approximately 50 centimeters.

Clarity and Crispness through Cool White

The tower illumination comes from below and adds a soft luminous veil to the building’s envelope, thus revealing the object in all its facets and dimensions. The light color plays a key role in this concept.

The association with refreshment through cool water was the conceptual starting point of all considerations. In our cultural area, white symbolizes purity and genuine naturalness. Thus emerged the idea to illuminate the nocturnal woven facade with cold white light of 6,500 K. The water tower pleasantly contrasts the predominantly warm surrounding illumination with its pristine crispness, created by the increased proportion of blue in the light spectrum – more though its suggestive color than through its ostensible brightness.

The LED floodlights used for the illumination are equipped with RGBW-chips. Through programmed scenes, monochromatic and colored light scenes, color gradients or animated light sequences can all be achieved, in addition to the standard “meaningful” white lighting.

Concentric Rings of Light

Staggered in three distinct distances, 24 LED floodlights are concentrically arranged around the tower. The inner luminaire ring nearest the building is located at a distance of approximately 5.5 m from the reservoir’s footprint. Here, the luminaires have a wide beam angle for a soft, seamless emphasis of the lower tower section. Positioned at a range from 8.50 m to 9.50 m and 14.5 m to 19.5 m, luminaires with a more narrow beam (13˚) and a very narrow beam (8˚) light distribution ensure the illumination of the tower’s middle and upper zones.

This carefully calibrated gradation, combined with a precise and continuous orientation creates an omni-directional, astonishingly homogenous light presence. Its straylight into the sky above Luxembourg could be successfully reduced to a maximum of 3 percent.

In spite of varying light distributions, the same outdoor fitting is used throughout. The use of a modular system of exchangeable optical lenses generates the required beam angles without having to establish a multitude of different luminaire types with differing maintenance routines and spare parts.

Gentle, yet Rhythmical Light

These delicate measures create a magical interplay of facade materials and light poetry, that make the building’s function a sensory experience, while revealing a virtually textile, structured night-time impression. Visible from afar in this highly frequented area, it proudly shows itself as a landmark that creates interest through its visual crispness and tells the attentive observer of its precious contents.

Project Credits

Project: Gasperich Water Tower, Luxembourg
Architect: Jim Clemes Associates, Esch-sur-Alzette
Lighting design: Licht Kunst Licht AG, Bonn / Berlin
Project and team leader: Maik Czarniak
Team: Stephan Thiele
Completion: 2018
Photos: Johannes Roloff (Licht Kunst Licht AG)
Victor Goedert

Specified luminaires: Philips Color Kinetics

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