Hindu palace protected and respected with LED light
A Hindu palace in Cairo, Egypt, may seem out of place and unusual in a predominantly non-Hindu city with rich ties to ancient culture. But the Baron Palace has become a recognizable feature of the Egyptian landscape.
In the early 1900s, Baron Empain, a Belgian industrialist and colonial entrepreneur, took on many projects in Cairo, including the settling and formation of Heliopolis, a desert suburb 10 mi (16.1 km) outside of Cairo. He called Heliopolis a "city of luxury and leisure." In the midst of hotels, wide roadways, a golf course, and other grand amenities, the Baron commissioned the construction of his own personal palace.
The Baron Palace was inspired by the Hindu temples of Orissa in India and Angkor Wat in Cambodia, which the Baron saw on his many travels. It is composed of reinforced concrete, one of the first major creative uses of such material. French architect Alexandre Marcel designed the palace to have a rotating base in order to access the sun beams at all hours of the day.
Heliopolis is now an elite district of Cairo. As a result, Baron Palace has become a Cairo landmark of curiosity, legend, and Egyptian history. The Egyptian government bought the palace in 2005, and it remains closed to the public today. Having been abandoned for years, the palace was in need of a refreshing makeover. For the 2014 Signify Cairo to Cape Town Roadshow, an annual event to raise awareness on sustainable healthcare and lighting solutions to enhance the quality of life in Africa, Signify Egypt and the Ministry of Culture chose the Baron Palace.
"The palace location, rich in history and design, makes it the best choice to showcase our lighting capabilities. Signify is the first company to light the Baron with the latest LED Lighting technology," said lighting designer Ramez Youssef. "We are bringing a neglected monument back to life."
The design team wanted to direct the view of spectators toward the main points of architecture, decoration, and particular details of the palace that mimic the Angkor Wat temple.
The lights also needed to create different scenes to complement the various functions of the palace. But most importantly, the lighting system would need to respect the integrity of the historical landmark with subdued lighting.
Color Kinetics and Vaya products provided the solution to these three goals.
Twenty-four eW Graze QLX Powercore luminaires fill void areas, such as doors, windows, and dome openings, to create a contrast between warm and cool white. Thirty-five eW Burst Powercore fixtures spotlight the palace's ornamental architecture, such as the narrow beams and rich columns, with a warm white light. Seventy-three Vaya Flood MP White luminaires were used for flooding the steps and fences with a wash of white light, giving a scale perspective of the palace's layout. Altogether, the LED fixtures decreased the palace's power consumption by 80 percent.
"We challenged ourselves to light up the whole project while preserving its antique forms and walls to create a dazzling, interesting scene with our different shades of white light," Youssef said.
The lighting of the palace will help bring the destination back to tourism maps. The balance of warm and cool light creates an inviting and eye-catching effect.
"Born and raised in Heliopolis, Cairo, the Baron Palace has always been a special historical landmark to me and to all Caireans," said Youssef. "It is one of the oldest and most precious centerpieces in the city."