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    Nelson Thomas

    Smart cities are a magnified version of a smart home.”

    By Denise Close, Jean-Luc Wittersheim
    Nelson Thomas


    Nelson Thomas, Electrical Engineering Associate Director at PACE's head office in Kuwait, believes harmonious integration of natural and artificial lighting is key to sustainable design. Traditional streetlights used as an intelligent platform for secured wireless connectivity improve living conditions and service quality, he affirms, contributing to developing future smart cities.

    What inspired you to become a lighting designer?

    I started my 33-year career in a large-scale factory as an installation and commissioning engineer after getting my degree in Electrical Engineering. My initial interest in lighting design was sparked back in 2003 when I was the electrical engineer for the Al Zabeel Park project, adjacent to the Dubai World Trade Centre. The night light transformation of these buildings fascinated me and inspired my imagination with “lighting magic.” Work with renowned architects on several landmark projects further developed my interest. Also, during that period, LED lighting was introduced on a small scale in our project which led me to explore more about this technology as a sustainable and energy saving alternative.

     

    What are the major challenges you face in your role?

    The key to creating a sustainable design is to differentiate and integrate natural and artificial lighting. The sustainable part comes with how natural light is used to minimize artificial luminosity. Natural daylight plays a significant role in enhancing human comfort and productivity.

     

    During the conceptual stage, it's very important to have an integrated approach involving the architect, interior and lighting designer to achieve a sustainable design. A ‘successful’ building must have a maximum daylight-harnessing capability integrated into the design. 

     

    What are some of the projects you’re most proud of?

    The Avenues Kuwait: All the possibilities of natural and artificial lighting played a significant role in the design. People can enjoy natural lighting in an air-conditioned setting. During the night, the lighting design transforms the entire interior and exterior architecture into scintillating illusions. 

     

    Dubai is ahead with respect to the implementation of the latest technologies, but Kuwait is not far behind.

     

    New Jahra Medical City, Kuwait: This project called on both functional and aesthetical knowledge in lighting design. All the patients' rooms were designed with external windows to improve their moods, with significant importance given to the maximum utilization of daylight and minimizing artificial lighting. 

     

    Sabah Al Salem Stadium, Kuwait: The design was based around the UEFA/FIFA guidelines, and the complete lighting design was with LED solutions. The floodlights were fixed below the gallery ceiling instead of the traditional method of using lighting pole structures. The challenges of the façade lighting led us to work closely with the architects for its special nighttime features.

     

    What role will lighting play in the future of smart cities?
    Smart cities are a magnified version of a smart home. Traditional streetlights can be used as an intelligent platform for secured wireless connectivity and IoT technology. 

     

    The entire city can have endless systems connected to the smart network, with security, transportation, lighting, environment, healthcare support, education and advertisement all monitored and controlled from a centralized location. Connectivity of all the systems will improve planning, efficiency, safety, development and the economy. 

     

    I am an advocate of this innovation because it opens up vast possibilities for sustainable living.

    Sabah Al Salem Stadium, Kuwait - PACE architecture and engineering © Pace
    Sabah Al Salem Stadium, Kuwait - PACE architecture and engineering © Pace
    New Jahra Medical Center, Kuwait – PACE architecture and engineering - SmithGroup © Pace
    New Jahra Medical Center, Kuwait – PACE architecture and engineering - SmithGroup © Pace
    The Avenues Mall, Al-Rai, Kuwait - Norr Consultants International – PACE architecture and engineering © Gijo Paul Georges
    The Avenues Mall, Al-Rai, Kuwait - Norr Consultants International – PACE architecture and engineering © Gijo Paul Georges

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