Shanghai BUND reimagined

In April 2018 we received the assignment to reimagine the lighting for 27 landmarked buildings on the Shanghai waterfront. Carefully revealed classical facades coexist as a series of jewel boxes within the larger fabric of the historic waterfront. We imagined a future of white light constrained to a CCT range from 1800K to 3000K, sympathetic to the stately historic facades and in marked contrast to the aggressive color changing lighting shows off the Pudong and other cities in China and around the world. The project was completed in 7 months and inaugurated by China’s President Xi on November 5, 2018.

FMS collaborated with Uno Lai Lighting Design to develop an overall concept for the entire Bund. FMS, in association with Uno Lai Lighting Design, provided complete design services for Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and Customs House.

With the rise of color changing LEDs, dynamic color changing, multicolored lighting of facades has become the norm – worldwide. As LED technology has become more refined, less expensive and equipped with almost infinite controls, the nightscape in the city after the city has been transformed into one large medium definition television set. While advertising possibilities and the potential to create iconic imagery enabled by these technological advancements cannot be denied, the architecture and the people who inhabit these cities have been increasingly marginalized.

Our project on the Shanghai Bund envisions a City of the Future in which Architecture is celebrated for the people. This is enabled by the use of white light, where white is defined in a narrow range of warm to cool, which provides full spectrum illumination that celebrates the richness of the architecture. The result is a BEAUTIFUL architectural facade, realized on the Bund as a series of facades on 27 contiguous buildings. This creates a ribbon of white that becomes etched in your mind as a symbol of Shanghai.

We designed custom iterations of tunable white lighting fittings that provide the range of white in color temperatures from approximately 2000k (Kelvin) to 3500k… a very warm white which approximates old-style incandescent or low-pressure sodium lighting… all the way to a modern, crisp cool white. There are more than 20,000 points of individual control which allow whole buildings or parts of buildings to be illuminated anywhere in this range of color. There is no “RGB“ color, only degrees of white. All of this technology allows for a simple exposition of the architecture and architectural materials on each building. For example, warm stones can be illuminated with warmer color temperature, while limestones or other whiter stones might receive cooler color temperature. Alternatively, the entire twenty-seven lines of façades can be illuminated in a single 2600k warm white. This demonstrates an INNOVATION in control strategy and implementation, not in its complexity but rather in its restrained simplicity. 

 Each evening the lighting can be static and simple, expressing the single image of the Bund; or it can be gently animated – either in a didactic way to explain the potent architectural richness; or, to celebrate the collective buildings to music. The citizens and visitors in Shanghai experience this celebration of Architecture and the landmark treasure (this landmarked Architectural treasure) along the Huang Pu River waterfront in a way that is BENEFICIAL to the people of Shanghai. From the beginning, the project has been all about the people. Rather than another “forgettable night of colored light,” we offer an image that becomes etched in your memory, a uniquely iconic vision of Shanghai.