Let There Be Light
Projects January 29, 2019 TiL Editors
After nearly 18 months of planning and installation work a new digital LED lighting system has been unveiled at St. Peter’s Basilica, in Rome. The new innovative design shines like a beacon, welcoming 27,000 pilgrims and art lovers each day.
The entire lighting concept for the project was tailor-made by Osram to highlight all the intricate treasures of the world’s most important and historic basilica. More than 780 special luminaires, equipped with approximately 100,000 LEDs, were used. Thanks to intelligent lighting controls, the lighting of the church, which covers an area of around 22,000 square meters, can be quickly and easily adapted to predefined lighting scenarios. With the new LED light, for example, the mosaics in the domes of the side aisles now can be seen down to the smallest detail. Numerous works of art that previously disappeared into the semi-darkness now are resplendently alive and glowing for all to see.
“This project provides a significant service, both to art lovers and to those who come on pilgrimage to this symbol of Catholicism. We are pleased that a special light has been cast on this important location,” says S.E. Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governorate of the Vatican City State.
The results are not only a wonderful example of light enhancing art, and the human experience of it, they are also an epic display of the potential of lighting design and technology working together in harmony.
“This project involved collaboration between the Technical Services of the Governorate and Osram. Together, they made up a unique team that succeeded, thanks to all their experience, in implementing a huge and unique project,” says Mons. Don Rafael Garcia De La Serrana Villalobos, Director of Technical Services of the Governorate of the Vatican City State.
The innovative LED illumination with high spectral quality and efficient photometric distribution has significantly reduced glare. Due to their special geometry and compact dimensions, the luminaires could be optimally integrated into the architecture. The number of luminaires also has been significantly reduced thanks to their efficiency. Together with the digital control system, energy savings of up to 90 percent are possible compared with the old lighting.
“We are very proud of this lighting masterpiece in St. Peter’s Basilica,” said Olaf Berlien, CEO of OSRAM Licht AG. “The project demonstrates just how history and high tech can be combined in the best possible way by using the right expertise. More than 500 years of history are now being bathed in digitally controlled LED light.”
The new LED lighting emphasises the masterpieces inside the sacred building, such as the mosaics covering more than 10,000 square meters, and also enables visitors to read without straining their eyes. Previously, the domes in the small side aisles, among other things, were almost unlit; now the new lighting concept will set the stage for them in the best possible way. Details that have never been visible before in the 500-year history of St. Peter’s Basilica, details that even art experts were unaware of, now can be seen without disturbing reflections.
The digital control system allows specific lighting scenarios to be selected, created or modified. Thanks to the new lighting, it is now also possible to transmit television images in high and ultra-high resolution settings with 4K or 8K. All the installation work was carried out by the Vatican City’s Technical Directorate, which, among other things, made important recommendations on the original project in close cooperation with the Cathedral Construction Works of St. Peter’s.
Thanks to the new lighting concept, every detail of this architectural masterpiece now can be seen in all its splendour and beauty for the first time since construction began in 1506.
All images are credited to Achivio Fotografico Fabbrica Di San Pietro