WE-EF light columns for Willy-Brandt-Platz at the new Berlin Brandenburg airport
As the forecourt of the terminal hall, Willy-Brandt-Platz is the architectural centre of the new BER Berlin Brandenburg Airport. WE-EF developed a tailor-made lighting solution for this multifunctional open space with its huge dimensions.
The opening of BER Airport in October 2020 will mark the completion of a major project, the inauguration of which was delayed for nine years due to numerous complications. The unusually long planning time also meant that the lighting for Willy-Brandt-Platz had to be modified in 2015 because decisive standards and technical parameters had changed, including those related to emergency lighting.
The lighting for the forecourt, designed by WES Landschaftsarchitektur, was developed by the Berlin lighting design office, Licht Kunst Licht, and it impresses at first sight. The lighting concept fully illuminates the approximately 14,000 square metres of the forecourt, but without seeming sterile, thanks to a soft progression in the levels of brightness. This is achieved by two rows of lighting, each consisting of just four slender, 16-metre high light columns, which – in keeping with the functional architecture of the terminal – line the new square with a certain Prussian-Classical austerity.
General and emergency lighting – from a height of 16 metres
Although the trend is towards illuminating squares with fewer light columns, a project of this size cannot be realised with “off the peg” products. The planners’ vision of accommodating the entire lighting technology in a seamless, slim steel cylinder was a challenge, even for an experienced manufacturer like WE-EF. The columns consist of a 16 m steel tube with a hot-dip galvanised surface finish and a special project-specific coating in DB703 micaceous iron ore. With a diameter of 300 mm, the columns have sufficient space to install the entire compact FLC141 LED projectors as light sources.
Two projectors are fitted above one another with special fastening pins in a cut-out of the steel tube. Flush covers made of acrylic glass close the cylindrical shape and protect the assembly space from dirt. The cut-outs have a slightly axial offset to extend the alignment range of the projectors. The upper three sections provide general lighting while the lower two are reserved for emergency lighting of the forecourt. This is because the forecourt is not just a prestigious space – it also serves as an evacuation area for the terminal, which means that it must have independent safety lighting with a separate power supply.
Trialling provided planning reliability
For the differentiated illumination of the forecourt, the lighting designers benefited from the availability of WE-EF’s FLC141 projectors in a uniform design with different light distributions. “We developed a concept that accentuated the traffic zones on the edge of the forecourt with continuously decreasing illuminance towards the centre of the square,” says Nils von Leesen, who is in charge of the project at Licht Kunst Licht. “Wide-beam optics illuminate the zones at the edges, while very narrow-beam optics beam the light over the square.”
The emergency lighting works in a similar way, but combines wide-beam and medium-beam light distributions to meet the normative requirements for illuminance and uniformity at defined assembly points. Planning reliability was ensured by a complex on-site trialling procedure, where a lifting platform conveyed a tube section fitted with projectors to the planned mounting height as a 1:1 model of the luminaires. Together with WE-EF as the supplier, the lighting designers were able to convince the principal of the functionality of this approach while also gaining realistic impressions of the lighting effect and the measured values for the further implementation.
Challenges met flexibly and professionally
The light columns are anchored in the normal way (like floodlight masts) with flanges bolted to concrete foundations. In contrast, other logistical aspects were quite different to standard processes. For example, WE-EF employees fitted the projectors and the electrics in the light columns directly on site before they were subsequently installed in their respective positions.
Even though the lighting of Willy-Brandt-Platz is just one aspect of the whole BER project, it is the first impression of the airport for many users and visitors – and it shows how even exceptional challenges in a project can be mastered with intelligent planning and professional partners.
Project: Willy-Brandt-Platz, Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg BER, 12529 Schönefeld
Principal: Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH, Berlin
Architects: gmp, Hamburg
Landscape planning: WES LandschaftsArchitektur Berlin
Light planning: Licht Kunst Licht AG, Berlin
Photos: Frieder Blickle for WE-EF