Notre Dame
Friday 21 Mar 2014


Philips, a global leader in lighting, has illuminated the world-famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris with LEDs, lighting up the Gothic masterpiece's features with more than 400 luminaires. The chosen luminaires - with an installed capacity of just 30 kW as opposed to the former 140 kW bulbs - will reduce energy consumption by up to 80%.

21st century LED technology now highlights the 13th century monument, capturing details previously lost, with light appearing to emanate from the stone, whilst the luminaires themselves remain hidden from sight. Powerful but never dazzling, the lights create a warm, reverent atmosphere whilst emphasising architectural detail the human eye could previously not detect.   

The sophisticated lighting reveals the details of renowned works of art such as the Virgin and Child. Today the profile spotlights redefine the characteristics of the statues, as well as shining a gentle light onto the sculpture, illuminating the flowers at her feet.

More than 50 meters from the rose windows, above both the north and south doors, two invisible 250W spotlights direct their beams onto each rose window, revealing the delicate forms of the sculptures. It would appear as though the stained-glass window radiates the light itself, however Notre Dame's exterior appearance in unaltered, with the light only visible from within.

The lighting was carefully adapted to suit the Cathedral's various activities, both religious and cultural, allowing for different atmospheres for each occasion, from concerts and public visits to religious ceremonies

The project's lighting designer Armand Zadikian was able to play with contrast against the white stone by retaining areas of half-light. Zadikian worked closely with the official French architects' body "Architectes des Bâtiments de France" to ensure the lighting's integration within the building was perfect, and to be certain that the luminaires remained invisible.

Benoit Ferré, the resident bishop's architect, designed the major innovation of this project; a horizontal spinal column, horizontal, which is both flexible and easily accessible. The technical column extends for three hundred meters, the length of the triforium.

A computerised system operates the 400 luminaires with a touch screen to simplify control. The system already contains several lighting programs, however Notre-Dame's manager can add more if required, for bespoke events. Because almost all of the luminaires are dimmable, it is possible to modify the lighting according to the event, the season, or the time of day.
"The challenge was to devise effective lighting while respecting the authenticity of this monument. The lighting really had to enhance the beauty of the site without at any time overwhelming it", says Benjamin Azoulay, General Manager of Philips Lighting France.