Illuminating the World
On Cartier Avenue in Quebec City, 34 giant backlit lampshades, decorated with selected works by Alfred Pellan and Fernand Leduc from the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, hang over the street. The installation is an original concept by Lightemotion, the lighting design firm that illuminates building façades and interiors in Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania.
To capture the identity of Cartier Avenue, Lightemotion sought a lighting concept that could express the warmth of a neighbourhood characterized by a strong community spirit. At the same time, the installation needed to be spectacular enough to be an event in itself. The idea of hanging lampshades was a perfect fit for these objectives. The shape of the lighting fixtures gives the avenue the cozy warmth of a residential interior, while the large artworks, backlit by LED strips and mounted on circular structures 8 feet across by 5 feet high, are an original urban medium for displaying art.
"Our major challenge was to respect the soul of Cartier Avenue, while being bold enough to create a world-class project that would help make Quebec City a true international winter capital," said François Roupinian, founder and president of Lightemotion.
Lightemotion designed the positioning, shape and size of its lampshades so as to compose an environment capable of creating movement in the city, while working within Cartier Avenue’s technical and architectural constraints.
While the winter exhibition is designed to be temporary, Lightemotion’s creation has the advantage of being flexible. The works mounted on the shades can be easily replaced to feature a different artist or theme every year. That capability suggests a vast range of possibilities for the system of displaying suspended backlit materials, whether it be art, urban-art competition entries, concert posters or images of different aspects of neighbourhood life. Moreover, the existing project includes provisions for the re-use of the lighting fixtures to create new annual shows for the next five years.
Vehicle for urban identity
The project is part of a master plan proposed by Lightemotion in 2013 to the Office du Tourisme de Québec, which calls for the illumination of several more major arteries. More than a simple street installation, the project is a vehicle for expressing urban identity. Emphasizing the importance of light for northern cities, the Office du Tourisme de Québec plans to use this type of installation to highlight its tourism programs and promote the city internationally as a winter capital.
Recently, Lightemotion created the lighting design for the Indian Heritage Centre in Singapore and for the Train World railroad museum in Brussels. In Toronto, the firm produced the lighting design for the Great Gulf Idea Centre and for the new headquarters of the Globe and Mail newspaper. In Dubai, the company completed the second phase of interior lighting for the Burj Khalifa tower. The firm also produces architectural and urban design lighting and is currently working on the lighting master plan for the Parliamentary Precinct in Ottawa and Education City in Qatar.
Photo credit: Patrick mevel photographe