By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

River of light

Part bridge, part building, this exhibition pavilion glows with internal and external light

Spanning 200 metres across the Ebro River in Saragossa, Spain, Zaha Hadid’s Bridge Pavilion was designed primarily as an exhibition pavilion and connection between the town’s railway station and the Expo site.

It was also created with a range of possible legacy applications in mind. Offices, an exhibition space (with multimedia elements) and a restaurant were among the potential future uses for the two-level structure, which comprises four intersecting elements and a ramp that traverses its length. As a result, longevity and flexibility were basic considerations for the lighting.

However, the key concern for the Bartenbach design team was to counter the tunnel effect of the bridge. “We wanted to address claustrophobia and the feeling of constriction using Spanning 200 metres across the Ebro River in Saragossa, Spain, Zaha Hadid’s Bridge Pavilion was designed primarily as an exhibition pavilion and connection between the town’s railway station and the Expo site.

Long life lighting
It was also created with a range of possible legacy applications in mind. Offices, an exhibition space (with multimedia elements) and a restaurant were among the potential future uses for the two-level structure, which comprises four intersecting elements and a ramp that traverses its length. As a result, longevity and flexibility were basic considerations for the lighting.

However, the key concern for the Bartenbach design team was to counter the tunnel effect of the bridge. “We wanted to address claustrophobia and the feeling of constriction using a careful selection of different light intensities,” says project leader Helmut Guggenbichler. “The interaction between light, materials, surface textures and architecture were of the utmost importance.”

In the main thoroughfares, natural light enters through glazing and openings in the scaly façade, creating a dappled effect. However, the primary focus was to design artificial lighting that both supplemented daylight and provided the sole illumination in other spaces.

Metal halide and halogen
The main ambient light source is a mix of metal halide and halogen spotlights built into the wall cladding between the structural ribs and the balustrades of the bridge. Invisible to visitors, they direct glare-free light upwards into the apex of the bridge. Here, an integrated reflector band made from varnished aluminium runs along the entire length, changing from convex to concave according to the height, evenly illuminating the area with secondary light.

A Dali-based dimming system changes the output of the luminaires based on the time of day and the different levels of natural light available. During daylight hours, only the bright, cool white metal halide fittings are used. These gradually blend with the halogen fittings to warm up the scene towards evening, switching solely to the halogen fittings at night.

A Dali-based dimming system changes the output of the luminaires based on the time of day and the different levels of natural light available

Under the ramp throughout the building, high intensity, narrow beam metal halide downlights act as ‘artificial suns’, giving rhythm to the space and guiding visitors. “They are partly for illumination – with their high intensity – and partly to act as a directional system, with a medium light intensity,” says Guggenbichler.

Linear fluorescent fittings
Also on the underside of the ramps, at either edge, are parallel lines of continuous integrated linear fluorescent fittings. A modified version of these fittings provides emphasis at intersections. At these points, and at both entrances, there are also banks of 30-degree metal halide and halogen spots that can be used for particular functions and events. Dali gives extra flexibility for exhibitions and occasions.

Metal halide spotlights integrated into the river bank construction light the exterior. These provide indirect and glare-free illumination to the underside of the bridge, with reflections from the river creating the impression of depth.

Fade-out systems are also incorporated so the lighting doesn’t adversely affect river traffic.

Extra exterior lighting is also generated from the interior of the building, an effect that was discussed at the concept stage with the Hadid team. The ‘scales’ of the façade let interior light shine through to the outside, creating a distancing effect. “We did this because we wanted the pavilion to appear as a building and not merely as a bridge,” says Guggenbichler.

 

Project details

Project: Saragossa Bridge Pavilion, designed for Expo 2008 on water and sustainable development at the northern Spanish city of Saragossa
Lighting design: Bartenbach LichtLabor
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects (UK)
Main contractor: Arup
Electrical contractor: Dragados
Supplier: Durlum

Join our LinkedIN groupLighting newsletters

Follow us

Follow Lighting on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news and latest developments in the lighting industry.

Find out more

Register

Register at lighting.co.uk to receive our newsletters and job alerts

Find out more