Ambient Enhancement at Amsterdam’s Villa Arena
Friday, 12 October 2001
One of Amsterdam’s latest landmarks is its futuristic stadium, the Amsterdam Arena. Home to Holland’s most famous football club, Ajax, the Arena has also created a number of opportunities for developers. Since its completion in 1996, the surrounding area has fast become a hotspot of urban renewal, with an ever-widening range of restaurants, cafes and hotels, malls, cinemas, and business centers.

One such development is Amsterdam’s new design emporium, Villa Arena. Conceived as a stylish home furnishings center, the building includes over 70 designer stores, and is intended to address the growing reluctance of shoppers to spend time browsing in stores, and to counter the allure of the cyber mall by offering a degree of entertainment, and a range of ancillary, non-retail facilities. With this multi-functionality in mind, Villa Arena required a lighting design that could match the modern demands for versatility. Lighting designers Hans Wolff & Partners asked local lighting supplier Fairlight to help find a creative solution, particularly to enhance the interior at night. Having previously had success with the Martin RoboColor Pro 400 on another shopping mall project, the choice was made to use the Pro 400 with a 33-degree lens.

Key to the Villa Arena experience is its light, spacious interior. Its four upper floors are arranged around a central atrium and dominated by a transparent air-cushion ceiling. The roof is formed by two transparent, air-injected membranes and supported by a light steel structure, an attractive feature but unable to support the originally specified downlights. Wolff’s solution was to use the 74 RoboColor Pro 400s instead, arranged in two rows on the sidewall. The top row projects light on the ceiling in the evening. "The ceiling in shopping malls is often neglected. Not in this case," observed Wolff. "With this lighting concept we didn’t need the roof to support any fixtures, which freed us to use the giant roof construction as a decorative element instead."

A bottom row of fixtures projects downwards to the shops and restaurants below. Using the Martin ProScenium software package, the colour-changers are programmed to create several subtle moods adapting to the time of day. In addition, light sensors allow the ProScenium software to make constant adjustments to ensure that Wolff’s lighting scheme is always in tune with the level of ambient lighting and does not draw focus away from the shops. Intensive use has also been made of the calendar function of the ProScenium software. Special color schemes have been created for Christmas and Easter. The results have been very well received, particularly by the project’s financial backers, who aim to use intelligent lighting on similar projects in the future.

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