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888 Collins Street is Getting Lit

Designed by Ramus Illumination for the Woods Bagot project, the illuminated façade of this Melbourne residential development is putting on a good show – just like the local weather.

  • Photography by David Russell

  • Photography by David Russell

  • Photography by David Russell

  • Photography by David Russell

  • Photography by David Russell

Two things Melbourne is known for is its commitment to public art and obsession with the weather. The luminous façade of 888 Collins Street, designed by Ramus Illumination, taps into both these Melbournian traits and transforms the exterior of the apartment building into a dynamic lighting installation and artistic interpretation of the weather. And recently winning the World Interiors News Awards for best lighting project 2016 (awarded in February 2017 in London), it proves that functional technology can be beautiful on a large scale.

888 Collins is a wedge-shaped 15-storey residential development at the junction of Bourke and Collins streets. The client’s brief was to articulate the architecture with light and to develop an artistic approach to lighting design in accord with the Melbourne’s Public Art guidelines, which encourages artists to deliver high impact, transformative and inspiring art in the public domain.

“The creative intention of this artwork is to reflect the energy present in the Docklands community,” says Bruce Ramus, Creative Director of Ramus Illumination and an expert in creating large-scale, interactive urban lighting installations. “It is meant to offer a visual connection and interpretation of what it feels like to live there and be a part of the ever-changing climate.”

The focus of Ramus’ lighting design is thirty-five soaring vertical fins flanking the façade. Each fin is fitted with custom designed and fabricated linear LED light fixtures that emphasise their rhythm and height, and are integrated seamlessly into the architecture to achieve the desired level of diffused glow. The result is a luminous skin that wraps the façade in vertical lines of light, powered by solar panels installed on the roof of the building.

A weather station installed on the roof and a link to the Bureau of Meteorology feed data into the lighting control system. Ramus’ custom algorithm then translates this real-time data into a set of outputs that essentially allows the weather to control the intensity and colour of the lights, which can range from subtle to dramatic movements. Abstract forms and patterns are an interpretive and artistic reflection of how the weather feels, and for five minutes on the hour between dusk and midnight the lighting forecasts the next day’s weather: temperature, wind, cloud, storm and rain. The high and low temperatures are indicated by a colour gradient (blue to orange); the presence of wind is conveyed as a turbulent motion in the lights; and cloud and the probability of rain is shown with cloud cover descending from the top of the building and raindrops coming from the clouds. From midnight until dawn, the lighting represents the moon’s phase in the lunar cycle for that particular night.

The weather has certainly been known to put on a good show in Melbourne and now it influences another good show – the lighting installation that envelopes 888 Collins Street.


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