City lights lifestyle
Every year, in cities and towns all around the world, a ritual of light takes place. A global communion beyond the religious or festive significance of Christmas, the change in the year or the practical sense of attracting visitors and encouraging shopping and consumption. Switching on city lights for the winter solstice reminds us of our childhoods, a sense of excitement reactivated every year by our inner child or the kids who surround us in our adult lives.
Light and excitement is an inevitable pairing; light as a game, as a deterrent to fears and uncertainties. Light as a way out of the darkness, hope in times of uneasiness behind the mask.
This year, cities have been illuminated on time. Domestic or public spaces have been adorned, and they take on a new dimension. Light that for the first time has greater sustainable awareness, fostering the use of new LED technologies to reduce the environmental impact.
The common element to all these projects is the focus on the tree or nature as the axis around which the new spirit of Christmas revolves.
London, Paris, Denver and Madrid, without visitors; with most shops, bars and restaurants closed; with less traffic, but the streets full of light created by designers and architects; all awaiting the new year, 2021.
Celtic trees: King’s Cross, London
Geometric trees based on the idea of the Celtic culture of forests and light in the winter solstice. Straight lines that form pyramidal shapes on an elevated wooden structure. The light provides green shades and nuances.
The Sam Jacob design and architecture studio emphasised the forest as a symbol of the constant rebirth of nature. A modular sculptural ensemble that we can traverse and also observe in its construction.
Tree of hearts: Plaza de Oriente, Madrid
A Christmas tree with branches open to everyone who lives or visits the city, installed in Plaza de Oriente. “A cheerful tree that connects people and unites them creating a community proud of its city. We have chosen a warm colour range –from red to yellow, from oranges to pinks– to welcome and surround everyone. The hearts of the tree are beating because Madrid is a city that is always full of life,” says Francesca Heathcote, partner of the Sapey and Partners architecture and design studio.
Digital holistic tree: Denver
Brut DeLuxe is an architecture and design studio led by Ben Bushe, a German architect with a studio in Madrid and Munich. One of the studio’s creative bases is lighting research in cities. They carry out urban interventions that always take into account the atmospheric, social, economic and aesthetic qualities of projects; and combine scientific and artistic vision with a very strong environmental awareness.
Their intervention in the centre of Denver is going all over the world because it is so spectacular. The #MileHighTree, the world’s largest digital tree, is covered by 60,000 LEDs. Inside the tree, an immersive light experience has been organised with the possibility for visits, of course with the necessary safety distance, with capacity for over 100 people.
Milky Way in Canalejas: Plaza de Canalejas – Carrera de San Jerónimo, Madrid
The newly renovated Plaza de Canalejas has just been opened to the public and a good way to visit it is to be carried away by the lighting designed by the Brut DeLuxe studio. The Laniakea lighting installation is designed specifically for this opening. It is dynamic as the elements change colour and reproduce the pulsations of the stars.
The proposal is inspired by the images of nebulae and galaxies from the Hubble telescope and the sensation that is immediately associated with them: hypnotic astonishment at the immensity of space, the infinity of stars and possible worlds mixed with memories of the true sight of the Milky Way.
Parade of red trees: Champs-Élysées, Paris
In the midst of the transition from the second lockdown in Paris, the so-called “city of light”, now without tourists or regular visitors, is being returned to the Parisians. This year, Paris City Council has opted for recycling and illuminations that do not generate pollution. Each citizen can be involved in switching on the lights from home via a digital connection.
The red colour, as a symbol of energy and vitality, washes over every tree on the great Champs-Élysées, so Paris truly lives up to its title as “la ville lumière”.