Custom Design Brings Dynamic Lighting to Montreal’s Complexe Desjardins


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A new custom lighting design developed by Montreal-based Lightemotion has made its mark in downtown Montreal. Working closely with the facilities team at Complexe Desjardins, Lightemotion has breathed new life into Montreal’s largest mixed use development, totaling 4 million square feet. Located in the Quartier Des Spectacles and facing the recently renovated Place Des Arts, Complexe Desjardins is the latest addition to the Quartier to include a dynamic and innovative lighting design strategy.

The complex was interested in resolving numerous issues through a lighting design strategy for the interior retail concourse and two main entrances to the retail concourse. Project goals included: 

• developing a distinctive new lighting scheme to create a warmer overall ambiance

• being dynamic and programmable

• reducing heating and cooling costs

• produce a call to action from the street so pedestrians will enter the complex.

One of the main features of the resulting design is the ability for the client to create programmable and dynamic lighting effects that adapt to the time of day, season, and activity within the space. Environmental sustainability —reducing hydro consumption, cooling and maintenance costs — was also paramount.

Following a detailed research and mock-up program,Lightemotion recommended replacing the existing flood lights with a custom designed fixture. The firm conceived a bi-directional 140 watt LED lighting fixture that showcases the unique diamond coffered ceiling. Combined with a powerful down light, they illuminate the entire shopping centre, adding much needed texture and nuance to the space. This also created unique floor pattern that enlivenes the space, enhances intuitive way finding and also diminishes the vastness of the space. “This lighting system not only provides a warmer ambience, with pre-programmed lighting that changes over the course of the day, but it is 67% more economical than the previous system and provides triple the lighting intensity at floor level,” explains François Roupinian, the founder and president of Lightemotion.

How the custom lighting solution works

To create a lighting ambience that is both friendly and dynamic, Lightemotion conceived a bidirectional LED (light-emitting diode) lighting fixture that the Montreal companyLumenpulse developed for this project. Composed of two elements (a frame equipped with RGB LEDs and a downward-directed directional flood), this brand-new fixture both directs coloured light upward as well as directing lighting downwards towards the floor. 

Installing one of these fixtures in each ceiling coffer created very subtle chromatic nuances that produce the effect of a path of colours covering the vault of the retail concourse. Outside, the marquees covering each of the building’s two entrances have also been provided with a lighting system that can project onto the ground a chromatic ambience creating a call to action to enter the retail concourse. The down lights provide 4 times more lux level than the previous fixtures while also creating a visually stimulating pattern on the floor eliminating the typical flat floodlight wash effect.

Creating an “urban clock”

Since the complex is both an event space and shopping centre, Lightemotion had a mandate to ensure the new fixtures provided a wide range of visual options. After a careful study of traffic patterns based on time of day and activity, the firm developed an “urban clock” concept that uses programmable DMX system to adapt the colours, tones, intensity, and colour temperature. Mornings were a bright and energetic dynamic white scheme to help people start their day.

For the lunch time rush, Lightemotion added warm colour tones that provide a luminotherapy effect, especially in the darker fall and winter months. At night, darker tones in blues and greens create a relaxing ambience for shopping. The custom fixtures were also used outside at each of the building’s entrances. By employing the same design principles and technologies outside and in, the entrance lighting system projects onto the side walk creating a chromatic coloured ambiance that compliments the lighting display inside.

Environmental stewardship

The lighting design is much more energy efficient than the previous 400-watt lighting fixtures. Using only 132 watts each, the new fixtures reduce energy consumption by 67%. Because they are also equipped with photoelectric cells, they are capable of automatically adjusting the lighting intensity and power consumption to compensate for the amount of natural light entering the concourse through two large curtain wall windows at each of the two main entrances.

Founded in 2002 by Francois Roupinian, Lightemotion is an independent global lighting design consultancy that combines outstanding lighting design with technical excellence. 



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