At 170 m (554 ft) long and 50 m (160 ft) high, the Coaticook Canyon Bridge at Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook is one of the longest suspension footbridges in North America and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Eastern Townships.
For several years, the Parc de la Gorge management team dreamed of revitalizing the bridge in a unique manner to increase tourism. The idea was for the bridge to become a dynamic, adaptive, and immersive annual attraction featuring nature and how it communicates to us. They called upon cadabra to rejuvenate this emblematic structure, which has become a source of awe for hundreds of thousands of visitors.
The design goal was to illuminate the iconic structure without compromising the view of the park’s landscape to ensure the preservation of its natural heritage, and develop a technology that both harmonizes with, and resists, the wide weather fluctuations in the region.
Completed in June 2021, the many light movements adorning the structure react to Coaticook’s varying weather conditions. The light interprets humidity levels, wind speed and direction, and temperature by drawing and animating dynamic organic content. The illuminated canvas adapts to natural elements to create a living digital artwork that is unique to each visit. On a hot day, for example, the lights shine in warmer tones of white, orange, and red. The system also accommodates various displays to mark special events or notable weather conditions. For instance, during high winds, rainfall, or snowstorms, visitors will witness magical and privileged moments.
"Stories are at the heart of our experiences and creations and it is in this same perspective that we developed this unique concept for the Coaticook suspension footbridge. We wanted to let the environment express itself, it is nature that orchestrates the illumination of the bridge throughout the year," explained Blancan.
Color Kinetics products were selected for its high-performance, professional LED lighting systems that provide excellent color and control consistency over long periods of time. Color Kinetics iColor Flex MX gen2 (2500 nodes) (now specificed with Flex Micro gen3, RGB) were placed in a manner designed to highlight the impressive architecture of the suspension bridge. The farther away from the center of the bridge, the greater the distance between the nodes: 4 inches apart in the middle of the bridge, 12 inches apart farther away from center, and 24 inches apart at the extremities of the bridge. The bridge is connected to a weather data feed, and a sensor mounted on the bridge captures wind and temperature data in real time to then animate the lighting of the bridge. Color Kinetics PDS-60 24V provides power and data to a good part of the system.
Added Blancan, “We wanted to program a visual canvas that could offer a different experience with each new visit. The Coaticook footbridge provides generative content that adapts according to the climate and offers a unique, ever-changing light spectacle.”