Pharos powers up dynamic forest fascia

Located 2km from Copenhagen’s downtown area, the original Amagerværket power plant was built in 1971 and was located far from residential areas. However, the city’s growing population has led to homes getting closer, and to guarantee safety for those living nearby, the power plant has gone through several upgrades to eliminate any production of harmful emissions, and ensure it is not an eyesore.  

As part of this development work, an extensive competition was run to appoint an architect to design a new biomass-fired CHP unit called BIO4 at Amagervaerket; the winner being Gottlieb Paludan Architects. The winning competition bid also included a lighting concept by prominent lighting designers Speirs Major. 

With the unit holding a prominent position so close to the city, and diagonally behind the Copenhagen Opera House, the architectural design of the 46-metre building is critical. To symbolise renewable and green technology, Gottlieb Paludan Architects used a forest theme, with the unit being fully wrapped in a fascia made up of suspended tree trunks. The vision for this was to represent the move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Enhancing this further, to mimic the brightness and shadows that are uniquely experienced in a forest, Speirs Major proposed integrated lighting that creates texture and movement after dark. Light is constantly moving in a forest, whether illuminated by the sun or moonlight, and the lighting scheme beautifully recreates this. 

Part of the project also opened up the sustainable landmark to allow those living, working, and visiting the city to enjoy a breath-taking view of Copenhagen from a rooftop viewing deck. The experience when moving up the stairs to reach the viewing deck was equally important, so animated, textured lighting accompanies visitors until they reach the stunning views across the city and beyond.  

To achieve the lighting design, Speirs Major have used 49 Martin Professional Exterior 1000 projectors, alongside 150 DALI controlled lights for downlighting, linear stair handrails, and other elements of the design.  

To accomplish the striking and experiential lighting effects on both the exterior and stairwell of the CHP unit, they specified Pharos Architectural Controls as the core of the lighting control system. Enjoying a longstanding relationship with Pharos, Speirs Major was confident its technology and solutions would perfectly deliver the desired results.  

An LPC 2, TPS and 4 RIO Ds have been used from the extensive Pharos portfolio. The LPC 2 (Lighting Playback Controller) features 1,024 channels DMX/eDMX. With the flexibility to be installed anywhere, thanks to its compact form and minimal power requirements, it also allows for dynamic pre-programmed lighting effects with the freedom of real-time manual overrides.  

The LPC 2 works in conjunction with the Touch Panel Screen – TPS – to offer an elegant touch screen interface, which is available in a range of different coloured bezels and overlays. Completing the system, the 4 RIO D – Remote Input Output DALI – devices provide a convenient and scalable way to control the DALI fixtures used in the BIO4 project and are easy to install thanks to a single Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) network connection.  

Even with the complexity of the lighting scheme, the Pharos solutions were programmed smoothly and efficiently.  

As well as automatically and reliably ensuring the theatrics of the lighting, the Pharos controls offer unique modes that can align with calendar events or special occasions, including red to celebrate Danish celebrations, and Pride colours. 

Iain Ruxton, Associate at Speirs Major, says: “The architecture of the BIO4 facade is captivating. It tells the story of the transition to renewables perfectly, and the lighting design enhances this to create the abstracted look and feel of light in a forest.  

 “Having worked with Pharos on many previous occasions, we knew their award-winning solutions would help us to deliver our ambitious lighting design. The technologies are fantastic, and the results are phenomenal. It was a wonderful project to be part of.”  

Tim Edwards at Pharos adds: “We are very proud to have supplied the control system to the BIO4 project. The lighting scheme from Speirs Major is superb; cleverly using textured and animated lighting from DMX projectors to recreate the atmosphere of a forest. Combined with the practical elements controlled via DALI, really highlights how Pharos can control both decorative and task lighting seamlessly in a single control system to great effect.” 

As well as providing a fascinating story and a beautiful building to gaze upon, the biomass-fired CHP unit is part of Greater Copenhagen Utility and Copenhagen Local Authority’s joint goal to become the world’s first CO2-neutral capital by 2025, and it’s already making a significant contribution to that aim. This ambitious plan also includes the building of a new waste-to-energy plant, new wind farms, and the Adelgade cooling plant. BIO4 will serve 30% of Copenhagen’s energy and district heating.  

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