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Responsive Lighting at Guangdong University of Technology

Mon, 14 Nov 2016

Responsive Lighting at Guangdong University of Technology

I've started doing some work with the School of Art and Design at Guangdong University of Technology in China (just above Hong Kong). It's proving to be a very interesting experience and one that I hope will lead to a longer term working relationship with them. One of our first projects together involves working on some interactive/responsive street lights for the campus.

The main body of the lights has been designed by renowned architect Vesa Honkonen (who is an International Professor in the School) and I have been asked to design a responsive coloured lighting system to accompany the main white lights of the fixture.

Vesa's design is quite unusual, featuring an oval body with up and down "trunks" that will contain white lights to illuminate the footways and trees around the campus. There is a special trunk reserved for sensors and Vesa's suggestion was that RGB lights are placed over the body of the oval.

At first I was a bit worried about the idea of drilling holes in the body to hold the lights, but after spending some time working on the layouts in a CAD package (with some helpful students) we came up with an arrangement of the holes that I think suits the overall structure well (see the picture above).

The next step is install the RGB lights in the fixture and add a control system. Phase 1 (December) will run slow colour fades on the system, Phase 2 (April) will add a custom controller to the fixture that will use sensors located in the body to trigger colour-change sequences in the RGB lights. Additionally, multiple fixtures will be able to communicate with each other in order to synchronise their colour changes.

As well as being an interesting project to get involved in creatively, this project is also getting me used to the Chinese way of working, which seems to oscillate between, "we need it now!" and occasional bureaucratic delays. The results of how they work can impressive though. For example, the initial five lighting fixtures were handmade by a local company out of stainless steel in about a month!

I hope to see the first light installed at GDUT in December. I'll post some pictures when they're up. More pictures showing the work-in-progress can be found on Flickr.

Author: Sean Clark