The mighty marble cathedral in the centre of Milan has been given new exterior lighting, and is now bathed in light from high-performance, durable LED projectors. In recent decades, Milan’s city centre has developed to become a location for international shopping. Luxury boutiques and shopping arcades are gathered around the cathedral, competing for the attention of passers-by with elaborate shop window design and lighting. Ambient light around the dome has therefore also increased. Following the recent renovations of the interior lighting, ERCO has now supplied the exterior lighting.
“Our aim was to give back to the cathedral its position as a focal point of the piazza.The cathedral radiates a light that’s symbolic of the whole city. It’s not only the cathedral of Milan, but also an important landmark for the entire region,” explained Pietro Palladino, lighting designer from Ferrara Palladino Lightscape.
The Milan office was appointed by the historical institution responsible for the management, protection and validation of the cathedral since 1387. “We undoubtedly improve the perception of the cathedral with the new lighting. The cathedral regains the didactic role it’s played since its creation: as with every Gothic building, the cathedral was built to proclaim a message of salvation. The facade of the cathedral bears the teachings and dogmas of religion, from creation to the teaching of the saints as well as the entire history of Christianity. This more or less educational function is once again ensured by the increased number of projectors. Illuminance levels of between 70lx and 100lx enable the numerous details of the building to be more clearly defined. The 4000K light colour enhances perception of the Candoglia marble interspersed with various shades of pink-grey.”
Projectors with particularly narrow and precise light distributions are required to effectively illuminate a building of this size in a densely built-up urban space, without having a negative impact on the immediate surroundings. “A good lighting concept doesn’t need masses of light but rather precisely applied, high quality illumination,” stated lighting designer Pietro Palladino. For the new exterior lighting of the cathedral the designer specified glare-free ERCO Lightscan and Gecko projectors, modified to the special requirements of the project. A total of around 570 LED projectors were installed.
The effect is breathtaking when the cathedral’s new exterior lighting is switched on punctually at dusk: completely bathed in neutral white light, the towering marble edifice seems to radiate from within. The new quality of light now gives the cathedral the dominance in the urban space that it deserves. Or, in the words of Mark Twain, who stood in front of the imposing cathedral in Milan in 1867: “What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful! A very world of solid weight, and yet it seems …a delusion of frostwork that might vanish with a breath.”
Client: Milan Cathedral institution “Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano”, Milan / Ital
Lighting design: Ferrara Palladino Lightscape, Pietro Palladino, Milan / Italy
Photography: Moritz Hillebrand
Drone image: Tim Lange