After almost eight years of construction time, Arup has finalised a unique, dynamic lighting scheme, based on a concept developed by Hollands Licht. As the sun sets the bridge structure appears dematerialised by fluid movements of light.
Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, the bridge consists of concrete strands that gather on one shore, flowing across to the adjacent shore in a sculptural waveform. Named after the country's former president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the 842m bridge connects the mainland to the island of Abu Dhabi. The bridge arch structure soars to heights of up to 60m above water level, creating a formidable gateway to the city, over the Maqta Channel.
The lighting scenarios are comprised of dynamic coloured light that flows across the channel. This luminous gesture creates an embracing landscape of colours for the users of the bridge and a scenic feature for distant viewers.
The structural silhouette shape, the so called ‘spine’ of the bridge, is highlighted by vibrant coloured light, while the underside of the road deck features integrated monochrome ‘cell’ lighting. A lighting control system allows for animated flow movements in the spine and the cells, resulting in fluid patterns of light travelling along the bridge.
Rogier van der Heide, now Chief Design Officer of Philips Lighting, designed the lighting from the start of the project for Hollands Licht in 2001. He explains: “It is based on two principles: first of all it is a metaphor of energy flowing across the water, visualised by colours of light cross-fading from one to another while simultaneously moving along the bridge’s spine. Secondly, the lighting renders the bridge’s spine at night in a 3-dimensional fashion, by projecting different colours on horizontal and vertical surfaces, that way articulating the spatial structure of the bridge’s spine.”