Changing Beirut’s Nightscape with Lights

As part of its continuous initiative to develop Beirut’s city center urban environment, Solidere launches Lighting Beirut Architecture as the first project to illuminate a large urban area using the concept of permanent image projection.

The project chooses to illuminate, as a first phase 28 key buildings and locations in the historic care of the capital nearly Foch-Allenby district, Bab Idriss and the Beirut Souks.

A new lighting concept for the Beirut urban scene will reveal the architecture of the historic core by night. The inaugural event includes a music performance by Al Fayhaa Choir in the square facing L’Orient Le Jour building on Trablous Street, in the heart of Beirut Souks. The opening is followed by the release of hundreds of flying lanterns.

The new technology captures and exposes the architectural value of heritage and contemporary buildings in the dark. Initially used to light stage sets, the concept goes beyond the theater to outline architectural details. The technique retraces with light the existing façade features of selected buildings. The result is a depiction that accurately matches the facade, with high definition design patterns. Unlike conventional lighting, fixtures are placed on rooftops facing lit buildings, therefore safeguarding masonry facades that are not initially conceived for integrated lighting system.  Architectural legacy remains unspoiled.

The lighting concept and gobo design was proposed by Light Cibles, a French-based design studio specialized in lighting design and creation of optimal solutions for historic buildings and urban contexts. Their team undertook site surveys jointly with DIAP, another firm based in Paris and dedicated for image projection and Multimedia. DIAP introduced a new optical concept of high definition gobo projector required for the project, as well as the building survey process. Mamari Frères (MFR), Lebanese lighting solution providers, were commissioned to find the most appropriate technical solution. Along with their partners Italian manufacturers Lampo, they conceived and developed a projector that went beyond initial technical specifications. Assembled by hand, the outdoor projector is one of the first to bear all weather conditions year-long, allowing the project to operate permanently. The innovative optical system provides exceptional luminosity, design definition accuracy, and low-cost maintenance.

Revealing a new and permanent night image comes hand in hand with promoting a better environment. Envisioned as a sustainable solution, optimal coverage for each projector reduces energy consumption. It significantly uses less electrical power than conventional lighting systems that produce similar results. No light goes to waste, and the city’s dark sky is preserved.

The concept of image projection offers also versatility. Design possibilities are unlimited, giving various designers and artists the chance to participate in lighting the city. Using the already fixed lighting equipment, all that needs to be replaced is the 145mm glass disk in front of projector lens that portrays the projected image. Ultimately, Lighting Beirut Architecture project aims to turn the city center into a lively platform for creative expression, transforming the city center into an arena for cultural experimentation with light.

Lighting Beirut Architecture changes Beirut nightscape and gives it a night image unseen before, one that hopes to contribute to the capital’s urban development.