Another day, another skyscraper. Brilliant buildings now fill our skylines, each more outrageous than the last, all crying out for our attention. Yet it is only a select few that become truly iconic.
So what makes a structure iconic? If we consider some modern skyline icons, from the London Eye to Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, two trends stand out: eye-catching design and a connection with people. Used effectively, lighting can drive both of these factors.
Lighting inspiration: Warsaw’s Cosmopolitan Twarda
In the case of Warsaw’s Cosmopolitan Twarda, it was architect Helmut Jahn’s design and British lighting manufacturer Pulsar’s implementation of an illuminated red ceiling and cantilever which solidified the building’s iconic status in the city. As the polish capital’s première luxury residential skyscraper, a 236-apartment high-rise with panoramic views, the Cosmopolitan Tower was always going to be an impressive structure. However, the extra attention given to its lighting has made it renowned.
Whilst the ceiling and inner atrium lighting shine red all-year-round, making the Cosmopolitan Twarda instantly recognisable, the tower’s exterior atrium frequently changes colour and pattern to reflect special occasions, seasons and even time of day.
It is this combination of being both striking and responsive that makes this structure not just a modern lighting inspiration but a seminal building. Clever design also ensures that no matter where the building is seen from, its remarkable lighting is always in view, guiding and mood-lighting the citizens of Warsaw.
Don’t Get Blinded by the Lights
Upon seeing the finished structure, Jahn commented on how the Cosmopolitan Tower’s distinctive lighting not only compliments the building but enhances it. He said: “The lighting of the red cantilever certainly reinforces the architectural feature of the Cosmopolitan and makes the building an icon.”
The Cosmopolitan Twarda uses commercial LED atrium lighting to its advantage, experimenting with colours and patterns in exciting locations for bold, dramatic results. But architects be warned: whilst well-designed lighting ideas can create the perfect ambience for an entire city, lazy lighting amounts to nothing more than pollution.
In the quest for iconic, seek out lighting that is eye-catching without being blinding, unique without being gaudy, and that moves with the spirit of the city.