The distinctive size and strategic location of Maad Towers in Mecca will inevitably result in a landmark project within Mekkah. The nighttime configuration focuses on emphasizing its presence and revealing prominent architectural elements in harmony with functional considerations. Twenty-one towers intersect and overlap as one monolithic mass, resembling a beautifully integrated series of mountains. The gradually recessed horizontal parts at times, and exposed vertical walls at other times is an interesting volumetric composition, clearly shown through the alternate sequence of shadows and brightness. UMAYA’s exterior lighting design invigorates this configuration by concentrating on the design vocabulary of vertical and horizontal elements, enhancing the integrated buildings’ mass while deliberately avoiding any compromise on the residential flair of the compound. The lighting scheme takes into account that the hotel apartments should be unaffected by light trespass from the exterior.
One of the outstanding architectural design elements is a rooftop parapet, which extends horizontally as a cantilever crowning the buildings from all directions. Highlighting this feature marks the integration between the buildings and gives a distinct identity to the volumetric composition from a multitude of distant viewpoints. UMAYA’s lighting solution comprised of a linear horizontal continuous wash to the soffit while fixtures are concealed inside small niches / grooves at the intersection between the façade wall and the underside of the parapet. The light output is aimed outwards so as to avoid potential trespass to interior spaces. The overall lighting design intent is for a soft, warm effect of a medium intensity that covers the surface as uniformly as possible. The setback distance of the source from the target played a key role in adjusting these parameters.
The soffit material’s finish was yet another element of complexity to be considered in UMAYA’s desire to achieve a satisfactorily appealing effect. The reflectance factor of the finish impacted the luminance values thus resulting in wildly differing final results depending on the material’s color and texture specified. Small-scale real life mockups were therefore the best tools UMAYA had to configure and adjust the final look in line with the specified materials finishes. In case of overhangs, the wooden-like supports were also used to mount fixtures and graze the exterior portion of the canopy, avoiding as much as possible light trespass through the glazed façade. Highlighting the vertical design elements helps to show the integrated composition and reveal the building’s scale in the nighttime.
Most of the solid surface area exhibits horizontal lines to alleviate the masses resulting in a more traditional pattern reminiscent of the traditional building blocks used historically in Arab homes. The intended effect is achieved using wall-mounted grazers deliberately aimed towards the opaque walls. The specification of these items included the identification of the optimal light intensity along with the right beam angle to achieve adequate coverage whilst reducing specular reflection on the surface. Glare control accessories, such as source shields / honeycomb louvers / snoots / visors or other techniques were considered throughout the specification process to ensure lower levels of spill to the adjacent zones and better redirection of the light distribution within the beam field towards the target surface. Light fixtures were grouped based upon the intended application and control methodology to automatically setup working hours thus optimising ongoing energy consumption over the long term, and above all, maximising fixture operating lifetimes by illuminating them only during nighttimes when ambient operating temperatures are more tolerable.
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