THE FALKIRK WHEEL EXPERIENCE

Nomination

Category

LIGHTING

Company

LIGHTALLIANCE

Client

Scottish Canals

Summary

This project is the lighting of Scotland’s unique asset -The Falkirk Wheel - a global icon of contemporary Scotland. It is the world’s only rotating boat lift, a unique visitor attraction on Scotland’s Canals and world-renowned piece of design. The result is a bespoke, flexible, dynamic and autonomous installation which accentuates this remarkable piece of engineering and design.The lighting design celebrates the forms of this structure and enhances its presence within the landscape.  The new lighting will enable the visitor experience to be extended beyond daylight hours of operation, facilitating national light-up events and activity after dark (to date we have recognised The Marie Curie Covid National Day of Reflection, Earth Hour and Strathcarron Hospice).Our lighting design took inspiration from the Engineering and Architecture of this unique structure and the canal environment: it’s striking shapes and component elements which comprise this magnificent structure. Each of these elements are celebrated, whilst maintaining the overall impact and composition: the rotating wheel, gondolas, aqueduct and tunnel. The dynamic content of the new lighting projection enables scenes and sequences to be projected onto the structure. Each light or projector, and each of the Wheel’s structural components can be controlled in isolation – creating a dynamic canvas for different colour combinations, effects or sequences.With digital lighting and controls we can vary the colour, intensity or direction of light and introduce shapes, patterns and textures which are tailored to the flowing forms of the architecture. We use a combination of static, dynamic and rotating overlays to convey the rotating movement of the wheel in some selected scenes. All of this is controlled by an intuitive user interface that enables the staff easy and straightforward programming.The 180m long Roughcastle Tunnel links the Union Canal onto the aqueduct, providing a dramatic moment along the canal network.  Naturally a dark space, the new design provides an immersive experience with dynamic and responsive lighting. The standard lighting mode is deliberately set to low and is activated to greater illumination when a person approaches (by boat, foot or cycle) – this is energy, safety and environmentally aware. A vibrant wash of colour ripples across full length of the tunnel in a rhythm that connects visually with the ribcage structure of the Wheel hoops further along the aqueduct. The result is a very flexible, dynamic and autonomous  installation, which can also be tailored to suit specific events or occasions.