Historic Street Lighting - A Model for Dublin
A successful retrofitting of historic street lights with energy-efficient LEDs has been recently undertaken in the centre of the German city of Leipzig. The innovative project was spearheaded by Braun Lighting Solutions of Berlin and solid-state lighting experts Future Lighting Solutions, with the aim of renovating and making more efficient the host of historic Schinkel gas lamps that have been a feature of the historic city centre of Leipzig since the nineteenth century.
The challenge for the project engineers was to incorporate energy efficient LEDs into the historic lamps in a manner that replicated the appearance of the original clusters of gas mantles inside each lantern head, as well as maintaining the ambient warm glow of gas light that is a defining characteristic of the city centre after nightfall. The initial models for Braun’s trial were the last three original gas lamps in front of the famous St. Thomas Church, the home of Johann Sebastian Bach.
“In Leipzig, the LED technology of the future meets the past of city lights which are more than 150 years old,” said Andre Braun, CEO of Braun Lighting Solutions. “Our approach keeps the traditional form of the lamps but lets them shine in a new light through advanced LED technology. We have been able to deliver on the goals for energy efficiency and environmental protection at the same time as meeting the requirement to preserve a historical artefact.”
By equipping the 360 Schinkel lights around St. Thomas Church with the latest LUXEON® Rebel LEDs, the city can save €20,000 a year in energy costs. The LED lamps consume only 22W, by comparison with the 85W power consumption of the lamps they replace. This 73.3% reduction in the power load also reduces CO2 emissions by 60.8 tonnes per year. Thus, the project is an important contribution to the implementation of urban climate protection goals in Germany.
To achieve the effect of gas lighting, the original parts of the historic lamps were supplemented with a patent-pending technology that mimics the size and arrangement of the previous mantles. The four mantles were replaced by four LED modules covered by satined glass, giving the impression of glowing mantles suspended within the lamps. The difference between the LED lamps and the gas light originals can only be detected on close inspection. An elegant touch was the incorporation of a single 1.2W LED in the roof of each lamp to provide a subtle glow for the opal glass at the top of the unit. Future Lighting Solutions also managed the process of ensuring consistency in colour temperature across all of the hundreds of LEDS used in the sceheme.
A Model for Dublin?
The Trust believes this is the type of project that Dublin should be undertaking as part of its Draft Public Realm Strategy in partnership with the Lighting Department of Dublin City Council. There is a number of locations where such as world-class synergy of heritage conservation and cutting-edge technology should be utilised, including, for example, the re-erection of the original 84 historic oil lamps that once graced the railings of Mountjoy Square, through to reinstating the private lamps of many of the city’s Georgian streets, as has been successfully undertaken in Edinburgh. Dublin's quays could also benefit from such unified treatment, as well as many of its smaller streets and lanes, and ceremonial locations such as Cork Hill outside City Hall and Dublin Castle.
The Trust has also advocated the retention of the traditional pillar standards on Grafton Street as part of its proposed repaving plan, and retrofitting them with correctly designed, high quality historic Dublin lantern heads fitted with sparkling LEDs.
Left: Oil lamps on Rutland (Parnell) Square in the 1790s (click to enlarge)
In spite of the widespread use of silver Scotch Standard lampposts on the city's streets - many reproduction - extraordinarily, there are almost no enclaves of historic lighting left anywhere in Dublin. Recent attempts to replace lantern heads on St. Stephen’s Green and the Ha’penny Bridge have resulted in poor, factory-produced imitations that in no way accord with Georgian oil and Victorian gas lighting in the city, while historic lighting even outside public buildings leaves a lot to be desired. There is a sore need for a reassessment of Dublin city centre’s lighting needs and how the city can best present itself through informed lighting design as part of a high quality public realm. One option could be to undertake a short study of historic Dublin lamp types, and incorporate these into the palette of materials currently being composed by Dublin City Council as part of its upcoming Public Realm Strategy.