The week that was 22-26th June

Singapore weekend 27-28 June 2015

Monday 22th Hangzhou/Anji – The China countryside I am a lucky guy as I get to travel and see the world mostly paid by my clients. Today I am on my way to the hinterlands to a village in Anji province 2.5 hours drive out of Hangzhou. Rather then flying through Shanghai and then taking the high speed train to Hangzhou as I had done in the past combining business in the big city, I decided to fly in directly from Singapore on a Silk Air flight, cutting a few hours of my travel time…By the time we landed in Hangzhou and got into our car to Anji it was already late in the afternoon but nevertheless we decided to go straight to site which we reached an hour before sunset (though there was not much sun on the day). Despite its higher latitude and it being a day after solstice day (the longest day on the northern hemisphere); darkness already sets in around 7.30pm. But enough light to enjoy the sights of the little village and the resort views on arrival. The resort we are in process of commissioning is located on the border of a beautiful lake surrounded by bamboo forested hills which were the background for the famous Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon movie. To me it is a greatly inspiring landscape and a welcome break from the busy, human bowling concrete city environments…this project is a gem in the making, blessed to be involved…

Anji 1

Meiziwan 1

Meiziwan 4


Tuesday 23rd Anji Meiziwan– Power to the people But everything is not rosy and sunshine…as it turns out there is still no proper power on site and as such we could only do physical inspection work but no check on actual lighting performance and effects. The site is so remote that the client had to negotiate with the local authorities to build an access road and bring (from 11km away) power to the site. The initial dirt road that lead to the site is now nicely surfaced with safety rails along the steep slopes down to the lake and power lines are ow cutting through the landscape to the resort. As always red tape has been utterly frustrating with final connection on site still awaited. Works (with the help of generators) has been ongoing and the site should hopefully be ready for partial opening later this year. The big question is of course how well have they managed to install all electrical infra structure with just a power generator. It would be a huge surprise if everything is all ready to “plug and play”; we will need to wait till power is connected to find out. Not surprisingly the contractors have used every excuse in the book (no power!) to justify any lack of electrical power infra-structure completion and as a result we found many unfinished areas with switchboards, circuit breakers and dimming systems yet to be installed…fingers crossed…

electrical 1

electrical 2


Wednesday 24th Anj/Hanghzou – Looking through to the future After the final team meeting in the morning we get back on the way for our return trip to Singapore. We reach Hangzhou well in time for the flight back and I use the time to write up my site review report and read up on the latest lighting innovations and developments. Two things strike out, one is a development form Samsung which is pioneering a LED screen on the back of trucks to allow cars queuing behind to see what is ahead. The screen gets a life feed from a camera fitted on the front of the truck so you can see “through” the truck. It apparently works day and night. While not directly related to lighting per-se, it does use a flat LED screen. I can see other applications on buildings for instance where life feeds would allow you to see what is happening inside as if walls not exist, perhaps something to consider in future space and lighting designs.

Samsung truck

Another development, one I wrote about in a previous blog, is the graphene lamp, this time complete with a You-Tube video about the technology. I am not sure where this is heading but it certainly seems to gather steam with more and more media reports appearing. It may well be what we need to give the LED Cowboys a run for their money. Right now LED is shaping up as the only alternative forcing the industry to move into LED whether you like it or not. An alternative perhaps competing technology could re-align minds and commercial attitudes to a healthier state! One development certainly to follow! Video link:

Graphene 01

Graphene 02

Graphene 2

Graphene 4


Thursday 25th Singapore – Dark condo’s Back in Singapore where I have a number of deadlines to meet. Fee proposals, project progress submissions and some financial end of financial year (June) matters; all that with the normal stream of office visitors popping in and out. We have an open door policy towards most manufacturers and suppliers and certainly in the age of LED technology samples of light fittings we intend to specify are flying in and out of the office on a near continuous basis. As I enjoyed an early Starbucks coffee on my way to the office this morning I read about Singapore’s “dark condo’s” an apparent reference to the oversupply of residential units in the city. Some reporter went out to check how well real estate is doing and photographed current condo’s at night and his assessment of the state of condo sales was based on comparisons of night time lighting today and one year ago. It just struck me that they were using lighting as a measure of occupancy. Not sure how accurate it is but one thing is sure…light is life…

dark condo's ST


Friday 26Th June Singapore – The money ball The week ended with a last ditch run to complete my entry for next year’s 2016 I-Light Marina Bay festival, due today. I was a proud participant in its inaugural event in 2010 and had done a submission last year that was not selected. This year I am trying again. Selection will be announced by the end of August. My busy schedule has seen me miss many deadlines for events such as lighting design competitions, news articles, etc. I do want to participate but a day only seems to have 24 hours…  🙂

My subject of the week is what I may call the “Money Ball”. We all deal with money in one form or another and in our design discipline it is fees and budgets. Time and again we are confronted with it, first when we reply to fee proposals and we have to submit our fees, later when we collect our fees and reimbursable claims and most of all when it comes to capital budgets for the procurement and installation of lighting…they are all linked. When we submit our fees we are often confronted with an uneven playing field. As professional and independent consultants we submit fees for our services to represent our time and required inputs and bar company size, overheads and expertise, professional fees should be within same ball parks. In reality however we lose out to “unprofessional consultants” who go in with very low fees banking on their supplier relationships to collect the “balance” in commissions at the end. This is specifically felt in our neighbouring countries. It is the only way I can explain fees submitted by “competitors” at one fifth of ours! The frustrating thing is that the clients fall for it and the even greater irony (as I have experienced first-hand) is that the client stupidly ends up paying much more during procurement where the “missing” fees are covertly included in the procurement prices and second rate fixtures are sold for the price of top rate ones. The lure of “cheap” and so called professional services often wins out leaving professionals like ourselves scratching our heads. Not surprisingly these projects end up with very much to desire…hopefully continuous education of our clients will help to establish the need for quality, not only in products but also in services…

I end with a picture I took in my hotel shower earlier in the week…you tell me what is wrong with the lighting… 🙂
Have a great weekend!

Shower lighting

The week that was…

27. June 2015 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: Education, Light and inspiration, light watch, lighting and culture, lighting and the economy, lighting design, lighting design practice, lighting of the future, lighting standards | Leave a comment

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