We are proud to include on our IES San Francisco Section Board Theresa Li and Daryl Wong of CBright Lighting, based in San Leandro. They were on the team that won the Award of Distinction at this year’s Illumination Awards at the IES Convention in Boston, for the Sakura Lake Sports Park lighting installation.

The project is certainly a lighting installation, but it’s both more complex and simpler than the kind of project typically profiled in the lighting industry media, and serves an an example of the kind of surprising creativity made possible by the combination of technical advancements in lighting and controls and a thoughtful, collaborative approach to interactive design in public art. 

I interviewed Theresa and Daryl recently to get their perspective on the project, and to find out a bit more about the story behind this refreshing and playful installation. 

CL: Who was the client for the project? 

TL & DW: Our client was the municipality of Weihai, a city of approximately 3 million in eastern Shandong province in China, on the Shandong Peninsula directly east of North Korea across the Yellow Sea. 

CL: What were the design requirements that the client asked for? 

TL & DW: Weihai municipality wanted an iconic sculpture to serve as a focal point for Sakura Lake Park, part of a large development funded by the municipality to promote tourism and wellness of residents. The park is located on the city's shoreline with the ocean to the south. It has 6 kilometers of world-standard cycling track along the lake. Connecting ocean and freshwater, it attracts many forms of wildlife to the delight of nature lovers.

CL: Where did the concept come from? What was the inspiration? 

TL & DW: As the park was in competition to host a world cycling competition, the municipality wanted a sculpture that is striking and symbolic. They were interested in something interactive from the very beginning. The concept of lighting controlled by bicycle really sold the project. 

CL: What were some of the technical challenges?

TL & DW: The initial design had six bikes, but the city wanted to increase it to twelve so more people could participate, thus increasing the control complexity. Since it is an interactive game for riders, the rules had to be simple to motivate the riders and also maintain the visual interest for viewers. The lighting effects were developed by Enlighten Projects with our control technical team. It took a while to fine-tune the algorithm to account for a variable number of riders. There are three different competition modes which would be set automatically within a 10-second timeframe based on number of riders at the moment. The mode ran for three minutes, even if the number of raiders changed. Some default rules were added later on so the best lighting effects can be shown periodically for viewers.  

CL: Can you tell me a bit about Sakura Lake Sport Park? How has the sculpture impacted the park? 

TL & DW: The park was well known for its cherry blossoms. However, as it is located at the end of the city, it had fewer visitors than other parks, especially at night. Use of the park has increased dramatically after the sculpture's debut. The lighting sculpture is now an attraction on its own. It has come the symbol to define the area. People can see it from many areas around the lake. People are motivated to come out at night and enjoy the harmonious combination of natural and man-made beauty. Since then, the park has hosted several national and international sports events and has be designated by the government as AAA tourist site. 

CL: Are there any design lessons or solutions from this project that you or others can use for different projects or problems? 

TL & DW: Interactive lighting solutions, if designed properly, can definitely enhance the environment while entertaining and inspiring people. However interactive lighting can be more complex than what we understand today as static lighting control. Lighting designers and technical teams have to work closely to achieve the desired effects and results. 

For more information see this post on Lighting Controls Association website.

-Clifton Stanley Lemon