The Square in Century City offers visitors the chance to relax, socialise, eat out and be entertained. The main objective for the precinct was to create a public gathering space for day and night time use. To achieve this at night, lighting was critical and the task was given QDP Lighting & Electrical Design. Christine Binedell explains that the external lighting had to be inviting without being overpowering, provide a sense of security, be dynamic, and link the precinct to the larger Century City.
The circulation routes around the precinct are clearly defined by well-lit walkways. These wrap around most of the buildings and outline the piazza perimeter. The links between the precinct and the surrounding area are depicted by a series of timber decks, highlighted by low level LEDs racking across the decks and defining the pedestrian exit/entry points. The piazza itself has a slightly lower level of light and relies primarily on the perimeter spill light to create contrast between the spaces. Standing in the centre of the piazza, the vibrancy of the perimeter spaces is accentuated by the lower light levels of the piazza. The warm light levels of the precinct lighting are offset by a blue glow over the water body of the canal along the main perimeter road side. The blue light is created by LEDs under the overhanging decks and the single blue light in each bollard, which creates a repetitive line along the water’s edge. The bollards were modified especially for the project to have three warm white LEDs and one blue LED.
Nestled between the piazza and canal, and confined between two pedestrian access points, is the Folly, or ‘impromptu’ language pavilion. The concept was developed by the project architects and comprises eleven woven circles, each depicting one of the languages spoken in South Africa, relative to its population percentage. The lighting to this pavilion was critical. Since the Folly is a visual focal point and a stage for Square events, and it is seen from surrounding buildings, the lighting had to complement the design concept of the pavilion. Also, the Folly, which comes to life at night, is the element that creates the dynamic aspect of the precinct.
Lighting to the Folly is mostly automated to ensure minimal user interface. Allowance has been made for user intervention, should a specific lighting setup be required for a special function on the piazza. Once again, only LEDs were specified for the feature lighting elements. The Folly starts to bring life to the piazza just before sunset, at which time the static white low level LED modules come on, creating a glowing circular effect under each pod. The high level colour change circles around each pod also turn to a soft white. The circles at top and bottom thus define each language and create depth to the Folly platform. Just after sunset the high level colour change circles start to morph slowly between a range of colours, adding to the vitality of adjacent restaurants. Within each pod there are also high level LED downlighters which highlight the rope weave from the inside, linking the high level and low level glowing circles to formalise each language representation. This cycles for a predetermined time and then reverts to the soft white setting, switching off just prior to sunrise.
The urban square offers a dynamic, vibrant and safe environment for the public to enjoy. QDP Lighting & Electrical Design was responsible for the lighting design for the Conference Centre (internals and associated external facades) and the external precinct lighting (Energy Lane, the Piazza, the surrounding canal), and for the concept designs for the façade lighting on the other buildings. The company was also appointed as the Electrical Consultant for the Conference Centre, structured parking and super basement.