Christchurch International Airport Air Traffic Control Tower

    Christchurch, New Zealand

    Photo Credits: Courtesy of Signify New Zealand

    Control tower gets a new glow

    "One great toy to play with" is how lighting designer Kevin Cawley describes the 45 m (147 ft) tall concrete and glass air traffic control tower constructed by Airways New Zealand at Christchurch International Airport. Designed by Paris Magdalinos Architects of Napier to afford air traffic controllers the best possible view of the airport and surrounding airspace, the tower emulates the iconic chalice work of sculptor Neil Dawson, which towers above Christchurch's Cathedral Square.

    A lighting innovator passionate about his home city of Christchurch, Cawley teamed up with Signify New Zealand and Cosgroves Electrical Engineers to develop a unique proposal for illuminating the newly built tower. The challenge they faced was how to light the dramatic structure on a small budget. In addition, the project team needed a solution that would ensure passenger safety by meeting the airport's operational and safety standards.

    The solution they presented was simple and cost-effective: just four Color Kinetics ColorReach Powercore floodlights (now specified with ReachElite) strategically placed to keep the light focused on the concrete tower, with minimal light spillage above the tower cab area where it would intrude on the line of sight for air traffic controllers.

    Reach Powercore floodlights were chosen because of their high quality and energy efficiency. With significant lumen output and unprecedented light projection of up to 159 m (522 ft), this powerful luminaire represents the next generation in exterior illumination. The luminaires achieve the same as a conventional HID solution that uses four 1000 W floodlights, but with operational energy savings of almost 70%.

    Controlled by a Color Kinetics iPlayer 3 DMX lighting controller, the luminaires display a variety of fully customized light shows that have turned the tower into the talk of the town. Kevin Cawley says the design of the architecture makes the tower a star, and the lighting is a great enhancement. "It's an amazing creation and it's already an iconic part of the Christchurch landscape — for many visitors, and Cantabrians returning home, it's the first thing they see on arrival."

    Airways Project Manager John Pringle adds, "The control tower is an iconic structure and is looked upon with great pride by the people who work at Airways. We know that over the coming years it will become a significant part of Christchurch's architectural heritage."
    Project credits


    John Pringle, Airways Project Manager


    Paris Magdalinos Architects

    Project Manager:

    Allan Stephenson, Signify New Zealand

    Lighting Design:

    Kevin Cawley

    Electrical Engineer:

    Cosgroves Electrical Engineers

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