The week that was…15-19th August 2016
Singapore – Hong Kong – Guilin – Yangshuo – Singapore, Weekend 20-21 August 2016
Our postponed visit to our project site right in the middle of the stunning mountains of Yangshuo, China, took place this week from Monday to Wednesday, courtesy of the typhoon 2 weeks ago that had cancelled our flight to Hong Kong and onwards. It was a very valuable trip, one we needed to make, to assure the design implementation remains on track. We returned with great satisfaction. Thursday and Friday saw a flurry of project and supplier meetings as well as in-house training for our staff. Friday was also more or less my last full day in the Singapore office as I will be working from our Perth office next week and after that travelling to China and Turkey before embarking on my month long annual leave.
We always tell our clients that our design concepts are as good as its final implementation, but all too often we find our clients unwilling to invest (sufficiently) in our presence on site during implementation. Not so this client. Though they are understandably tight on the budget, they have shown their appreciation and understanding of the importance of good quality and are willing to spend the money and go the extra mile to get the desired results. We had insisted on doing some critical lighting mock-ups to establish the correctness of our design and make sure that the big money items to be invested in this project are well spent. Besides regular project progress review our visual mock ups included the corridor lighting concept and the major artwork lighting that carves right through the main building at several locations. The building architecture is stunning, an open brick structure that let’s in light during the day and reversely breathes out light like a lantern at night and getting it right is crucial. The project is a mix of a historical old sugar cane factory with a new building designed to blend in with the old buildings architecture and its majestic mountainous and river background. As the scaffoldings come down and the building architecture starts to appear, the beauty is slowly emerging…and so the importance of the lighting!
The fishbone artwork
One of the biggest unknowns to us was the physical shape and texture of the bamboo artwork. We had done computer modelling of the lighting but needed to assure ourselves that our lighting design intent worked. Not surprisingly the actual artwork configuration was a bit different and it needed physical lighting tests to confirm which lighting option would work the best. We had studied external, peripheral as well as integrated internal lighting positions deciding after two rounds of night testing that the latter one best brought out the artwork flow, containing excessive light and shadow projections and providing a nice ambient glow. Most of all best concealing the light fixtures out of sight. High fives concluded this part of testing with client and architect ecstatic about the results. The lights are dimmable which will allow us to fine tune the brightness once all other lights on the property are installed.
The multi-story corridor lighting
Access to the guestrooms in the main building is through a “maze” of multi-level corridors with open voids letting through daylight. The lighting concept is a reversed approach where the 5 story walls are grazed with a soft wash to achieve an ambient glowing feel of a lantern when viewed from outside. There are no downlights and the linear wall wash creates a mystical silhouetting of guests moving through the corridors. Our main challenge is to achieve an even coverage from top to bottom with linear lights installed at the top and each mezzanine level, installing them in such way that direct view by guests is minimised if not fully concealed. Custom coves and louvres have been designed for this purpose though these were not all in place during testing, which main objective was to establish that we can achieve the uniform coverage and desired brightness and colour consistency. The availability of dimming at a later stage will allow us to fine tune the brightness to the exact right balance.
Insects and lighting
As an interesting “by-product” of our testing in the middle of the summer, was how the lighting attracted insects. The pure white walls combined with more or less the only lighting source in the area was sure to attract insects of all sorts with the architecture’s open air structure and as a result initiated a hefty discussion about whether the lighting concept was right for this…interesting! The client suggested to install down lights away from the white wall, which we duly carried out to see if that would make any difference, only to quickly come to the conclusion that it totally ruined the lighting concept. While a serious issue to watch, we concluded that a) the colour of the walls should not be bright white (probably more darker grey) and that later on with a clean site (no stagnant water) and generally lights on in the landscape and proper “pest control” this issue would be of much less impact…Interesting though and I am going to research a bit more if with lighting we could reduce the attraction of insects. In principle LED lighting have a far lesser UV content which by right would reduce the insect attraction…If any of you readers have anything on this to contribute please do share!
Colour shift and warranty
Some interesting other important lighting issues we discussed and confronted. With the supplier present for the visual mock ups we also took the opportunity to test and approve lighting fittings for the project and one of the issues we had been very strict on was colour temperature consistency. During testing however we discovered a colour shift between two in principle identical lighting strips. The difference however was obvious, our desired 2400K was “only” 2600K in the IP 65 version. It was explained that the IP sealing measures affect the light output and as a result produces a colour shift even though the LED chips are identical. This is not an big deal if they are not seen together, but where they are we need to address this. In another discussion we reviewed the warranty conditions as in another job we had encountered that by the time the hotel had opened the warranty was already expired. Having learned from this we now have a warranty in place that start on installation but has a minimal duration of 2 years upon handover of the lighting installation to the client. We believe this is an important condition to protect our clients.
Back in the office
The rest of the week, back in the office, was spent on project design development meetings with the teams, upcoming concept presentations, new fee proposals, supplier visits and training one of our own staff from our Perth office in Singapore allowing her to meet the team and get some hands on training. Welcome Elisa! The last 2 days rushed past in a wiz, but a very fruitful and satisfactory week it was.
One of the perks of travelling is that we get to enjoy the natural beauties of the countries we visit. Yangshuo is a big tourist attraction and with beautiful weather and picturesque dining locations which the client endeavors to bring is each time. I leave you with some of these beautiful sights.
Enjoy your weekend…