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Luminaries of the lighting profession gathered at the elegant Crystal Tea Room in Philadelphia, PA USA on 22 May to honor the winners of the 36th Annual International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) International Lighting Design Awards. Twenty three projects from 12 countries were on display—including exteriors, interiors, workspaces, museums, hospitality sites and a place of worship. This year’s winners represent some of the most innovative and inspiring architectural lighting design work found anywhere in the world.

The design of Antwerp’s Cathedral and Immediate Surroundings in Antwerp, Belgium with lighting design by Susanna Antico Lighting Design Studio, took home an IALD Award of Excellence.
In 2018, Antwerp celebrated the 500th anniversary of the construction of the iconic tower of the Cathedral of Our Lady. As part of this historic event, a new lighting design by Susanna Antico Lighting Design Studio was revealed.

The scheme fully complies with Antwerp’s overall master design plan, an initiative that aims to minimize light pollution, utilize sustainable lighting practices and showcase the stunning architecture of the city.

Because the building can be seen from multiple parts of the city, linear LED floodlights integrated into the façade dramatically light the building at night, making it a focal point of the skyline. During the day, these lights are not visible and do not hamper visitors’ appreciation of the stunning architecture of the cathedral.

Judges praised the floodlight placement and temperature choice, stating, “The balanced brightness of this façade lighting scheme with the surrounding neighborhood building façades is well produced— brighter but not extremely so. The entire composition of the exterior nighttime environment of the community is improved. The use of cooler color temperature for the higher elevations is a masterful choice to create greater depth of field to the observer.”

The technical challenges imposed by this structure were skillfully handled by the design team. Eliminating glare and light trespass, while still highlighting distinct features and emphasizing the geometry of the building, required a hierarchy of lighting that shows beautiful composition and balance. The rich details in the architecture are seen more clearly in the white light of the new fixtures whereas the old yellow fixtures often magnified the building, blurring rather than sharpening.

Multiple judges noted that this harmony of detail extended to how the cathedral fits in with the cityscape and the other historical buildings that surround it. Balancing luminaires from their own scheme as well as the shifting master lighting plan of Antwerp was no easy task.

To offer the city more lighting options, a DMX controller was installed so that lighting can be preprogrammed for holidays or other special events and also adds to the energy savings.

In fact, the designer’s luminaire choices are an essential sustainable measure. While the number of luminaires has exponentially increased, the new floodlights and other lighting effects reduce energy costs by 40% —an impressive feat.

The updates to the street-level lighting as well as lighting in the surrounding areas further adds to the ambiance, creating an inviting public space and yet another place to stop and marvel at the cathedral itself.


Antwerp’s Cathedral and Immediate Surroundings
Antwerp, Belgium

Susanna Antico, IALD
Gad Giladi
George Balan
Helena Gentili (formerly with Susanna Antico Lighting Design Studio)
Susanna Antico Lighting Design Studio

City of Antwerp, Belgium

Video and 3D Modeling
George Balan

Electrical Engineering and Project Management
Fluvius (ex-Eandis)

Installation Contractors
Maes Industriële Verlichting
Elektro Zwijsen
Verstraete Enterprises

© Benno Van den Bogaert (Images 1-5, 7-14)
© Michel Gerits (Image 6)

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