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19/06 2015

New lighting for the Imperial Forums

New lighting for the Imperial Forums

ERCO LEDs illuminate the remarkable history of the Roman Empire

A permanent installation of artistic illumination will use lighting to

narrate the history of the Forums and Emperors.

Lighting concept: Prof. Vittorio Storaro – Architect Francesca Storaro

Lighting design: Architect Francesca Storaro

The nocturnal atmosphere at the Imperial Forums is about to change. Starting

21 April, Rome’s birth date, ERCO LEDs will illuminate one of the world’s

most important archaeological sites and symbol of a history that even today –

after 2,000 years – never fails to surprise and captivate us.

The area between the Campidoglio, the Palatino and the Quirinale is the

setting for a grandiose lighting project and urban enhancement designed by

Maestro Vittorio Storaro, cinematographer and three-time Academy Award

winner for the masterworks “Apocalypse Now”, “The Last Emperor” and

“Reds”, and Francesca Storaro, the architect who also developed the lighting

“To fulfil such an important and ambitious project, the designer chose LED

lighting technology that, thanks to cutting-edge lens systems, guarantees top-

notch performance and pinpoint accuracy. For this project, ERCO has also

developed suitable special lenses designed specifically by Vittorio and

Francesca Storaro, in order to adapt the light distribution to the complexity of

an archaeological site like the Imperial Forums,” explained Andrea Nava,

Managing Director at ERCO Italia. “Combining art and technology is very

important for us,” continued Nava, “and is a part of the company’s DNA at

ERCO that will continue to provide the energy and know-how to encourage

the enhancement of culture in Italy and around the world.”

Work on the project was carried out by the Rome City Council with the

support of Acea S.p.A. and Unilever for the design phase.

The objective was to create a permanent installation of artistic illumination

that will use lighting to narrate the achievements of the various emperors and

the remarkable history of the Roman Empire. In particular, the project

concerns the Forum of Augustus, the Forum of Nerva and the Forum of

The Forum of Augustus

The core concept behind the illumination of the Forum of Augustus contains

the image of a wave of light rising from the ground that begins to engulf the

Temple of Mars Ultore with an intense luminosity and, as it gradually

becomes softer, rises from below to encompass the entire perimeter of the

walls that surround with the two Exedrae the Forum of Augustus.

The Pax Romana was also established under Augustus, symbolised by light

shining down from the sky like soft moonlight. The area of the Forum around

the Temple is illuminated from above, like a protective covering that outlines a

privileged area with soft, neutral and uniform lighting that shows off the Forum

as if it were part of a stage where the history of Rome is enacted.

The Forum of Nerva

If the view of the lighting of the Forum of Augustus is a balance of selective,

unidirectional, uniform and diffused light, the illumination of the Forum of

Nerva is composed of a series of lights which unilaterally produce an upward

lighting that defines a specific space, namely where the Temple of Minerva

stands. A second series of lights on top of the walls, featuring the same

lighting consistency, uniformly illuminates in soft, neutral tones the ground in

the centre of the Forum. Other architectural elements emerge from this lunar

uniformity that made up the base of the Temple of Minerva: the Pronao,

illuminated to bring out the splendour of the past and the so-called

“Colonnacce” that look skywards, illuminated bottom-up in an explicit

alignment with the columns.

The Forum of Trajan

The Forum of Trajan has its centrifugal focal point in the Trajan Column,

which appears to surge from a centre point, like a driving force exerted by

someone trying to create a wave of light around his body that encompasses

the surrounding space. This is why the lighting concept begins from the

Trajan Column, which appears to emit light from the centre with a series of

soft lights that trace the perimeter of its square base. The light rises along the

circular column in two concentric rings to the columns of selective lights that

reveal in a play of lighting the entire story of the emperor’s epic

achievements. If the parallel columns that form the Basilica Ulpia are

illuminated bottom-up, the centre of the basilica receives its light from a series

of projectors that appear to rise from the ground, spreading their luminosity in

front of each column until it meets similar lighting produced by another series

of lights that, with a centripetal force, blend with the first, uniformly

illuminating the entire pavement of the basilica. Lighting is initially centripetal

but becomes centrifugal expanding outwards.

The lighting project

Only luminaires with LED technology were used in the illumination of the

Imperial Forums. In particular, the designer found in ERCO luminaires

suitable tools for creating the lighting concept.

On the one hand, the reasons for this choice are excellent performance, even

with extremely low energy consumption: the system’s amount of power is only

28KW for a surface area of over 20,000m2. On the other hand, the flexibility of

the interchangeable (patented) lens systems allows modification of the beam

of light based on the requirements of the objects illuminated, ensuring

pinpoint planning accuracy. For example, for the Trajan Column, the same

series of projectors include wallwasher lenses for diffuse lighting of the base,

16° spot lenses for the central portion of the column and 7° narrow spot

lenses for the terminal portion, which ensure prefect viewing of the

engravings that cover the entire height of the column.

Apart from their robustness and excellent lighting efficiency, ERCO luminaires

also differ for the precise selection (binning) of diodes, which is a fundamental

characteristic for a huge project like this one. Indeed, the design choice

envisages the use of both warm white light (3000K) units to indicate the main

architectural element characterising each single Forum, and neutral white

light (4000K) to illuminate the remaining part of the Forum. Therefore, it is

indispensible to ensure the colour stability and identical hue of the lighting to

prevent the same architectural element from presenting different visible

The main element of the Forum of Augustus that must be highlighted is the

Temple of Mars Ultore. For the Forum of Nerva, emphasis will be given to the

“Colonnacce” and base of the Temple of Minerva. Lastly, for the Forum of

Trajan, the focal point is the Trajan Column.

LEDs also have a long life and are ideal to meet the requirements of Acea

S.p.A to minimise maintenance on such a particular and fragile

archaeological site.

Lastly, LED sources can be dimmed and are therefore ideal to adapt the

levels of brightness necessary to create hierarchies of perception and

programme different light scenes.

To this end, all the projectors are equipped with dimmable DALI control gear

or phase dimmers managed by a sophisticated control system designed by

HELVAR, which makes it possible to adjust the light intensity of LED units

with absolute accuracy. These can be dimmed continuously from 100% to 1%

without any perceptible variation in the hue of the light or colour rendering.

Each Forum will have a separate control module located in its interior.

The three systems depend on Helvar Digidim DALI-bus 910 Routers that

operate the lighting units, also controlled by dimmers via DALI.

The three systems are connected via the Internet by a centralised computer

system that depends on a control room, where facility managers can carry

our controls and maintenance and intervene on pre-set light scenes for

special lighting requirements.

The entire system is connected to an astronomical clock that automatically

activates at nightfall the programmed and engineered scene to exalt the

architectural characteristics of the forums with lighting accents and notes and

satisfy the requests and requirements of the lighting designer.

Technical characteristics of ERCO projectors

The following range of ERCO projectors are used in the project:

Lightscan, Parscoop, Grasshopper, Beamer and Focalflood.

For further information

Mariella Di Rao, ERCO Press Office

Mob: +39 335 7831042


Maria Chiara Salvanelli, Helvar Press Office



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