The project to provide permanent artistic lighting for Rome’s Imperial Fora began as an initiative of the Rome municipality, with financial support from Unilever, and was realised by Acea Illuminazione Pubblica. Vittorio Storaro - three-time Oscar winner - came up with the idea and lighting designer Francesca Storaro produced the lighting project.
The area involved is vast, nestling between the Capitoline, Palatine and Quirinale hills, and the first stage focused on the Forums of Augustus, Nerva and Trajan. In total, 520 LED light sources were selected, for an expanse covering 20,000 sq m, as this option was more efficient than the alternatives. Aside from the inherent energy savings, the LED lights can also be dimmed using a DALI system, adding an extra layer to the lighting. The further advantage of such technology is to cut maintenance and the related costs.
The decision to adopt Erco devices was driven by their unique nature, durability, excellent performance and the patented, interchangeable Spherolit lenses, which make it possible to adjust the light beam in relation to the object being illuminated. The final - but definitely not least important - reason for choosing Erco was the precise LED binning (less than 2 SDCMs). This proved fundamental given the identity and complexity of the project as it was essential, despite the sizeable area involved, to provide colour and hue stability, even when light beams overlap. Lights from the Lightscan, Parscoop, Grasshopper, Beamer and Focalflood collections were used, in White 3,000 K to give the main architectural feature (symbol of the emperors) a solar hue, and in White 4,000 K to bathe the secondary elements in more lunar tones. For the Forum of Augustus, single-direction lighting was selected to highlight the Temple of Mars Ultor, with a light path rising up to the wall bordering the Suburra neighbourhood before doubling back on the forum, symbol of Rome’s greatest period of peace and prosperity. For the Forum of Nerva, the lighting project was centred on a single axis to highlight the base of the Temple of Minerva and the pair of columns (next to the temple pronaos), using a unilateral axis and bottom-up lighting.
The Forum of Trajan has lights that move from the inside out, picking up the structure of the forum itself. For this part, the focal point is the Trajan Column, surrounded by three concentric circles of selective lighting to highlight this central architectural feature and then spread out, like a river of light, through the rest of the forum. The lighting for the Basilica Ulpia follows the rectangular layout of the structure, thus beautifying the area while also giving a sense of the complete building that once stood there.
The project is an excellent example of using expertise and technology to maintain the history, culture and memory of a place.
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