21st century technology to highlight a 13th century monument
With this new LED technology, the light appears to emanate from the stone, with the luminaires displaying the building while themselves remaining inconspicuous. Never dazzling, sometimes powerful, and always warm, this light creates a reverent atmosphere while still emphasizing the architecture.
The lighting reveals the details of renowned works of art such as the Virgin and Child. This statue, which was moved to Notre-Dame in 1818, is the most famous of the thirty-seven representations of the Virgin that the cathedral contains.
Today the profile spots redefine the characters while at the same time shining a gentle light onto the sculpture and the white flowers laid out at her feet.
The north and south rose windows, which were made in the 13th century and symbolize the flowers of paradise, have also been highlighted.
Positioned above the north and south doors, more than 50 meters from the rose windows, two completely invisible 250W spotlights direct their beams onto each rose window, revealing the delicacy of the sculptures. This lighting gives the impression that the stained-glass window itself is radiating light, without altering the monument’s exterior appearance, since the light is only visible on the inside.
Lighting adapted to the Cathedral’s different activities “The Cathedral has two roles, a religious one and a cultural one, with religious ceremonies, visits (almost 14 million visitors in 2013) and concerts. The new lighting was therefore designed to allow different atmospheres to be created depending on these activities”, explains Armand Zadikian, the project’s lighting designer.
Armand Zadikian was able to retain areas of half-light, to play upon the contrasts and to create effects of white tones. In order to integrate the lighting perfectly with the building and make the LED luminaires virtually invisible to visitors, he also worked in close collaboration with “Architectes des Bâtiments de France”, the official French architects’ body.
Specifically designed by Benoit Ferré, the resident bishop’s architect (European Architecture Company, EUROGIP), the major innovation of this project is the creation of a spinal column, horizontal, flexible and easily accessible. This technical column extends for three hundred meters, the length of the triforium.
The 400 luminaires are operated by means of a computerized system, with a touch screen to simplify control. The system contains several lighting programs and Notre-Dame’s manager can add more if required.
Almost all of the luminaires are dimmable, making it possible to modify the lighting according to the event taking place (ceremonies, concerts, prayers, etc.), the time of day or the season.
Why was LED lighting chosen?
The characteristics of LED lighting have several advantages:
- Lower energy consumption: the 400 luminaires used have an installed capacity of just 30 kW, compared with almost 140 kW previously. The consumption of the lights in the nave, for example, has been reduced to a fifth of what it was.
- A luminous efficacy far greater than that provided by conventional sources and instant ignition.
- A longer lifespan of the installation: around 13 years for 10 hours of lighting a day (switching on and off does not affect the lamps’ lifespan).
- A reduction in maintenance costs: LED luminaires require little maintenance. For example, the lights have LED flame lamps that reduce the number of maintenance-related operations (scaffolding and moving furniture), while at the same time cutting energy consumption by 80%.
- Dynamic lighting that makes it possible to adjust the atmosphere of the site according to the religious or cultural activity (change of intensity and color).
“Philips is very proud to have placed its know-how and technology at the service of this splendid project. For us the challenge was to devise effective lighting while respecting the authenticity of this monument, which attracts several million visitors every year. The lighting really had to enhance the beauty of the site without at any time overwhelming it”, says Benjamin Azoulay, General Manager of Philips Lighting France.