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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. Twentythree 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 the Meixi Urban Helix in Changsha, China with lighting design by Office for Visual Interaction, took home an IALD Award of Excellence.

Like a stream of water, a continuous, uniform band of light wraps around the curved structure of the Meixi Urban Helix in Changsha, China.

The building merges the natural elements of water with the man-made force of urban development. The Office for Visual Interaction’s design acts as a natural extension of this architectural language, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in light as they enjoy views of Lake Meixi.

The primary feature of the design is the glowing, infinite gesture of light that flows through the outer spiral of the building. The infinity theme is further emphasized by keeping all other structural elements—the radiant vertical helix columns and the undulating wave structure of the bridge— dark in contrast.

Concealed linear LED cove uplights illuminate the ramp canopy to create this spiraling ribbon. The visual depth stems from the RGBW capable luminaires that are adjusted to distinguish the outer ramp surface from the inner surface. From both a distance and onsite, observers experience a dimensionality to the light, a sense of internal movement.

All other lighting also uses similar motifs and curves to emphasize helices, the flow of water and their spiraling natures. On the inner ramp’s perimeter, miniature marker lights sparkle and guide visitors up and down the helix. Because of their low-level illumination, they do not disrupt the panoramic nighttime views for visitors.

Radiant in-grade lines also replicate the paving pattern that begins at the center of the helix. Concealed step lights and under-bench lighting accent the stage and steps. Miniature in-grade LED uplights highlight the edge of the vertical structural elements, generating the image of a spiraling ribbon, another fluid design element.

Judges described all of the elements as an “excellent integration of lighting with the overall structure.” The team from Office for Visual Interaction succeeded in ensuring every lighting effect truly mirrors the intent of the architects in combining water and urbanity.

Meixi Urban Helix by KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten + OVI – Office for Visual Interaction



Meixi Urban Helix
Changsha, China


Jean Sundin, IALD, CLD
Enrique Peiniger, IALD, CLD
Markus Fuerderer, IALD
Office for Visual Interaction


KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten


© Ines Leong

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