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Light is Back  


  • Location

    Paris, France
  • Architectural project:

    Jakob & MacFarlane (Restaurant)
  • Lighting project:

    Piero Castiglioni
    Isometrix/Arnold Chang (Restaurant)
  • Jahr


Location Map:

Beaubourg’s “joyous urban machine”, whose construction began in 1971 and ended in 1978, underwent a general reorganisation and was given a new layout during the course of 1999.

Renzo Piano, the architect who created this structure together with Richard Rogers, has reconsidered the exhibition areas of the Centre Georges Pompidou. The fundamental idea is that the Beaubourg is a large area which must be flexible and adaptable to the variety of events that take place there. Renzo Piano defined the general atmosphere of this area as one which, according to him, should be similar to that of a piazza, hence very bright, lively and not structured. It is for this reason that he decided to use lightly structured sign panels which are also used to divide the whole Forum area very freely.

The Beaubourg is also provided with a restaurant whose architectural impact is very special, designed by Jakob and Mac Farlane, and whose lighting was especially created. iGuzzini illuminazione collaborated in perfecting the lighting technology project for it. 


The Forum lighting technology project: Piano determined the nature of the Beaubourg’s lighting, distinguishing between general lighting and then precise lighting onto each sign panel.The decisive contribution in perfecting the real lighting technology project was that made by Piero Castiglioni, who was consulted by the Studio Piano, and who followed all the stages of the project’s development attentively. The specific requests were: level of lighting on ground level equal to 150/170 lux spread evenly all over the Forum (values on ground level, given that the Forum is 12 metres high). The general lighting is assigned to a luminaire specially designed for the Beaubourg that is situated according to a regular network and that reminds one, thanks to its shape, of the numerous tubes which make up the main characteristic feature of the building and that help create the typical atmosphere of an industrial structure. It has very extensive optics and uses 70 and 150 W metal halide lamps.

The accent lighting is instead assigned to projectors, products that are totally new and created especially to materialise one of Piano’s ideas: Le Perroquet luminaires that make use of discharge lamps.

According to Piano, it was necessary to create a luminaire which could be light, hanging in the air yet still identifiable in the middle of the Beaubourg, that great machine which tends to incorporate and depersonalise every object inserted into that context.
The luminaire which was expressly developed for the Beaubourg has a hooking system made up of fine cables and it is these very cables which disappear in the large space which is the Forum, whereas Le Perroquet luminaires are distributed in such a way as to almost create swarms of birds, thus making their presence clearly perceptible.

Their position is variable on purpose, so as to meet the flexibility requirements of the Beaubourg fully.
As is often the case with Piano projects, lighting is very important and one of the most evident characteristic features is that of its homogeneity, and so the lighting has also been carefully studied for the areas disposed around the Forum and reserved for the additional services.

Looking at it on the whole, Piano’s opinion is that one must perceive the symmetry of the areas and the homogeneity of the structure, a homogeneity that is also highlighted by the widespread presence of these luminaires. “Le Perroquet” is also present in other places, apart from the Forum.

To obtain this symmetry and homogeneity, the concessionaires were made to adopt Le Perroquet luminaires and light sources which had the same colour temperature as those used in the Forum.


Restaurant lighting technology project: The area of the restaurant on the terrace designed by the Jakob + Mac Farlane studio is very special indeed. 

It is a porticoed area on the last floor of the Beaubourg and will be illuminated by Platea luminaires on the outside. The lighting technology emphases and the lighting technology project were taken care of by Arnold Chang’s Isometrix studio.

The restaurant is very original, futuristic even. Its main characteristic feature is embodied by the presence of “organic” elements, created in rubber with lively colours inside, that get inflated and make up the component attracting the visitors’ attention. Their presence has been highlighted by their lighting. For this area, according to the requests made by architects Jakob and MacFarlane, a special version of the Cestello luminaire by Castiglioni and Aulenti was created.

Cestello’s structure was made lighter and each individual projector was surrounded by a small cylinder, and in some cases equipped with coloured filters. The coloured light is pointed towards those organic elements which make up the characteristic features of the area. Cestello is ceiling-mounted and uses QR111 lamps.

A decisive element in Piano’s and in the Beaubourg management’s choice to collaborate with iGuzzini was the now in-depth and well-established acquaintance between the Italian architect and the company, as well as the willingness shown by iGuzzini technicians in checking the luminaires inside the Beaubourg itself.