Bridge lighting: challenges and optimal solutions

By: Secom
27 de May, 2021
Reading time: 11 min

Bridge lighting is effectively the art of turning these structures into unique enclaves. After all, how a bridge is lit can change people’s perceptions of the bridge and its surroundings. Various factors go into achieving good bridge lighting: engineering, design, technical expertise, creativity, overall vision, sustainability and integration criteria, and attention to detail.

This article addresses...

  • BRIDGE LIGHTING CHALLENGES
  • ACHIEVING PERFECT BRIDGE LIGHTING
  • SPECIALIST PRODUCTS FROM SECOM
  • SECOM PROJECTS

Bridge lighting challenges

Any lighting project for a structure, such as a bridge, is unique. The project has to consider safety, meteorological factors, the ease of installing the luminaires and the robustness of these.  

There is a whole range of possible lighting choices: floodlights that distribute the light intensively, grazing lights that generate broad beams and gentle contrasts, wash lighting, downlights, facade lighting to accentuate textures… Each project presents a unique challenge.

 

Types of bridges

The most common types of bridges are arch bridges, beam bridges, truss bridges, suspension bridges, cantilever bridges and cable-stayed bridges. Lighting these requires careful consideration of their height, scale and shape, and of the dual functional and artistic role of the light.

Adequate luminaire distribution

Everything depends on whether the overall purpose of the lighting is to accentuate effects in certain areas or to provide wash or grazing effects. The lighting distribution can be general or differentiated, direct or indirect, symmetrical or asymmetrical, and horizontal or vertical.

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Light can also be intensive or broad. Luminaires with a radiation angle below 20 degrees are intensive and are called spotlights. Those with a larger such angle provide a broad beam and are called floodlights. Thus, a broad light distribution with wall wash lights, for example, creates better vertical illumination and is ideal for large surfaces. Intensive lighting, on the other hand, is suitable for specific zones, such as cables or piling.

Aesthetics

The desired lighting aesthetic is determined by a series of factors including the location, the surrounding environment, the colour of the light and the local climate. The vantage point from which the structure is viewed also has an influence, as does the way the bridge is used by people and vehicles, and the position and visual impact of the luminaires.

Appropriate use of colour temperatures is also key – these can be used to highlight different parts of the construction. Warm temperatures of around 3,000 K are best for lattice constructions and wood, while cold surfaces such as concrete or steel do better with light temperatures of around 4,000 K.

Adequate interior lighting; visual comfort   

Visual comfort is essential for safety and is achieved by taking into account not just the aesthetic but the clarity and visibility of the spaces to ensure people and vehicles can traverse the bridge safely.

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Achieving perfect bridge lighting

Bridge lighting fulfils a functional role as well as an aesthetic one. Sustainability should be a key consideration, as should the prevention of light pollution. The latter can be achieved by using good shielding and by directing and focussing the luminaires to prevent upward light flow at night.

Adapting lighting to accentuate bridge shape

Lighting has to be adaptable to fulfil environmental and sustainability criteria and aesthetic ones too. That’s why directable and adjustable luminaires, with suitable mounting options and which require almost no maintenance, are ideal.

Advantages of RGBW luminaires         

With RGBW luminaires, a range of light sensations and experiences are possible. This technology is a huge asset to all manner of bridge lighting projects, creating artistic compositions from the full range of colours and shades to achieve soft and calming lighting effects.

Lighting perspectives

Any bridge lighting project must consider the light in transit areas and at strategic points. What is more, the entire structure must be visible from different vantage points.

 

 

Robustness

Luminaires should be selected based on their energy efficiency. They must also be watertight, able to withstand being turned on and off repeatedly, able to dissipate heat and be insulated. Their weight and dimensions also come into play.

Guaranteeing user safety

The light must be uniform at all points on the bridge used by pedestrians or vehicles. The goal must be visual comfort and soft lighting effects which do not blind or distract bridge users.

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Specialist products from SECOM

SECOM supplies a range of specific luminaires for bridge lighting projects. The Protek and Larnik LED fixtures are manufactured specifically with architectural lighting in mind. In addition to their robust design, they can be integrated without altering the bridge aesthetic and are simple and safe to install. They meet all current legal requirements and have a waterproof rating of IP65 and a vandal-resistant rating of IK10. 

Esdium luminaires are ideal for spaces with a wide range of lighting demands, as the light beam can be adapted and redirected.       

Lastly, the FloPro range of luminaires is also suited to bridge lighting. Highly resistant to loads, they are designed to be embedded in the ground or walls and can demarcate transit areas.

SECOM projects

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In addition to lighting the bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava in Vistabella (Murcia), SECOM is behind the lighting project for La Pepa bridge (Cádiz) and for similar constructions including the Pasarela or footbridge in Águilas (Murcia) and various bridges in Elda (Alicante).     

These benchmark bridge lighting projects ensure that the constructions sit well in their surroundings, highlighting their architectural attributes, giving them an identity and providing a functional and aesthetic lighting system.

 

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