Abbaye St. Victor in Marseilles, France, has been a prominent architectural landmark for hundreds of years. Originally a crypt, the Abbaye marks the entrance to the Old Port of the city. In 440, the building became a church, and it remains a religious pillar of the community to this day. In 2013, the city turned to Color Kinetics to revamp the church and bring magnificence back to the Old Port.
The Abbaye needed to stand out among nearby illuminated building while remaining a part of the Marseilles heritage. Color Kinetics and lighting designer Jean Luc Hervé of Les Orpailleurs de Luminaire worked together to design a lighting system that would highlight the old stones in the church's foundation and the four bells at the top of its towers.
The team was determined to create a color-changing effect that transitioned "de l'or á l'argent" or "from gold to silver." Areas around the church were installed with Color Kinetics ColorReach Compact Powercore floodlights (now specified with ReachElite
), which illuminate the façade with warm white light that progressively changes to a cool 6000 K. The gradual temperature change is triggered every half an hour at the sound of the church bells. The lighting creates a subtle wash on the church that is not too overpowering but that still brings attention to the exterior of the building.
Color Kinetics ColorBlast Powercore LED wash lights were installed to illuminate the back of the church. At the beginning of the night, the luminaires emit a very cool white light, which appears silver. As the evening progresses, the luminaires slowly transition to a warm white light that looks gold.
ColorBurst Powercore LED spotlights were installed in alcoves underneath the four bells to accent their detailed design. To illuminate the alcoves themselves, and to highlight the tower from a distance, ColorGraze Powercore LED grazing lights were installed to complement the ColorBurst Powercore luminaires. An iPlayer 3 DMX lighting controller handles all light shows and color-changing effects.
Since the completion of the installation in May 2013, the church has benefitted greatly from its new appearance. The discreet and simple lighting scheme gives the church an iconic look without appearing garish. The LED luminaires are intense enough to give the church visibility anywhere in the Old Port.