Lighting designer and writer Carl Gardner reports on the best new architectural light fittings for the outdoor environment, launched at mid-April's Light+Building exhibition in Frankfurt
For UK specifiers, reared on minuscule lighting trade shows that you can cover in a short afternoon, the sheer size, scope and quality of the biennial Light+Building exhibition in Frankfurt is staggering.
Leaving aside the 500-plus building automation and electrical components companies on show, no less than 1,400 international lighting companies, trading from 70,000m 2 of superbly designed exhibition stands, attract something like 150,000 visitors over the space of five days.
And for the purposes of this survey, I have to winnow that lot down to little more than a dozen products? so here goes.
LEDs lead the way Inevitably perhaps, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) were once again big news, as the world's lighting companies come to grips with their huge potential. Perhaps the most signifi ant introduction was the Millennio LED streetlight from Hess, which demonstrates that there is no area of lighting that LEDs won't colonise in the next few years. With its two parallel bars of LEDs, mounted on a 4.5m slotted aluminium column, Millennio certainly looks nothing like any other streetlight - and its performance, coupled with long, narrow light distribution, would make it suitable for cycle pathways, public spaces, minor roads and footpaths.
Spotlights and floodlights, too, are increasingly turning to LEDs for their long life, sharp optical performance and colour change capability. Discus from Sill Lighting and Wever & Ducre's Kinelight are two excellent examples of the trend. The former packs together 900 low-wattage RGB LEDs (totalling about 60W) into a flat, shallow aluminium body, to create an effective colour-change floodlight or washlight. The Kinelight range comprises a series of stylish linear wallwashers, floods, spots and pool lights, based around groups of the larger 1W Luxeon LED.
Bollard bravura After years of neglect, the humble lighting bollard has at long last been given a new lease of life, in terms of both style and performance. The Panorama bollard from Erco, for example, breaks new technical ground. Its minimalist form hides a 70W metal-halide lamp in the base, projecting up onto a cone reflector behind cylindrical protective glass, which creates a 360 ° circle of light with a radius of six metres. Equally importantly, there is zero upwards glare or light pollution.
Two new bollards from We-ef Lighting also offer great optical performance, from radically different body styles. The slightly nautical-looking Eyris bollard has a circular, slotted louvre for symmetrical distribution, while the Roxxy bollard has an oval crosssection, with interesting grooved details, and comes with one or two prismatic lenses, for single- or double-sided operation. Options include either a 35 or 70W ceramic metal halide lamp.
Finally, there are the bollards that have grown into something more totemic, such as the Joker Line from Prisma Lighting, a slender light column up to 1,774mm high, using T5 fluorescent lamps - and offering two- or four-sided light output. Even grander is the Palmeria light fitting from Santa & Cole - a very distinctive, not to say eccentric, take on amenity lighting. Its 2.5m high, 400mm-diameter body in perforated sheet steel literally resembles the trunk of a rather metallic palm tree, with the light from twin 58W fluorescent lamps glowing out of the cracks in the 'bark'.
Up the wall Exterior wall lights came in many shapes and sizes. In the area of simple, circular fluorescent fittings, Concord: marlin offered an IP65 version of its popular Brio interior range, which shares the same distinctive oval form and satin glass-effect polycarbonate diffuser, but with a tough, pressure die-cast aluminium body. Brio is available with standard (full-face) diffuser, a hooded version to reduce upwards light pollution and a three-bar grille model, for increased toughness and durability. A rounded, anti-ligature version can even be specifi ed for sensitive institutional and penal applications.
The variable beam, up/down wall light was pioneered by iGuzzini's Kris fitting but there are now a number of competitors on the market, including We-ef Lighting's Roxxy version (the same family as the bollard), which features a (literally) groovy, curvaceous body - beam shapes are variable, from wide to narrow, and lamps range from 35W HIT to 100W SON. Another variant is the Dittik luminaire from Prisma Lighting - a more solid, structural-looking product, which takes linear tungsten, compact fl uorescent and metal-halide lamps up to 150W.
On the spot When it came to new exterior spotlights, there were a number of class acts. Firstly there was the Meyer Nightspot range, designed by Roy Fleetwood - and distributed in the UK by Commercial Lighting. Typically precise Meyer optics, offering a number of beam widths, come in a handsomely minimalist package, with rounded rear body. There are two main sizes, catering for light sources from 35 to 150W HIT - variants include a gobo projector.
Then there is the sleek-looking Louis Poulsen SPR spotlight/ fl oodlight collection, with its more streamlined form - here there are three size options, from SPR10 (for the new 20W CMH lamp) to the SPR14, which can take up to 150W CDM-T.
Finally, and slightly less mainstream, there is the Zoom Outmax model from Regent Lighting, whose distinctive design is based around contrasting geometric shapes and fi nishes - a silvered aluminium stirrup holding a rectangular black control gear box, on the front of which is a silver cone reflector. It may look slightly toy-like but its performance belies its appearance.
Figures in the landscape Finally, there were several interesting new landscape lighting features - one of the most notable being Modular Lighting's Kabaz lantern box, which takes a 23W compact fluorescent, sits on the ground or wall, and is completely portable. Each of the four sides features interchangeable feature panels, including louvres, cutout patterns, arrows and so on, so the appearance of the lantern can be tailored to suit the location.
Useful for delineating the boundaries of car parks or pathways, there is also the Scape fi tting from Wever & Ducre, which someone (probably in public lighting) will undoubtedly rename the 'trip light'. This is a low, elongated rectangular hoop, in three lengths, with hidden T5 fluorescent linear lamps, which wash the ground below. It is also flexible enough to be wallmounted.
READER ENQUIRIES Commercial Lighting (Meyer) 1419 Concord: marlin 1420 Erco Lighting 1421 Hess Lighting 1422 Modular Lighting Instruments 1423 Louis Poulsen 1424 Prisma Lighting 1425 Regent Lighting 1426 Santa & Cole 1427 Sill Lighting 1428 We-ef Lighting 1429 Wever & Ducre 1430