Free Li-Fi, Light Swings, Bicycle Parkings and More Light Design from ITMO

The Novosmolenskaya Embankment at Vasilievsky Island is well known to those living on the island near "Primorskaya” metro station and the rest of St. Petersburg’s dwellers. Locals and guests of the Northern capital come here to photograph sunsets, gracefully reflected in the smooth waters of the Smolenka River; see some of the apartment-buildings which are the record holders for the number of flats in them (house No. 1 has 1,483 apartments, for instance); enjoy the architectural complex of the embankment and so-called houses "on chicken legs", which have become one of the symbols of the non-standard approach to the city architecture in St. Petersburg. Despite the fact that the Novosmolenskaya Embankment is a center of attraction not only for the district residents, but for other groups of people, it’s experiencing some obvious problems these days. To name a few, poor lighting and fragile ecology. Natalya Bystryantseva, Head of ITMO’s Higher School of Lighting Design, speaks about a new unique concept developed jointly with Lensvet, a St. Petersburg State Unitary Enterprise. City Planning and Architecture Committee of St. Petersburg is leading this joint project, which will turn the Novosmolenskaya embankment into a new communications platform thanks to the introduction of new technologies and a unique light design solution.

Modernization project will place serious emphasis on improving the location’s lighting. A team of specialists has been working for more than six months on the right solution for the embankment. These professionals have been analyzing the human flow, nature of people’s interaction with the space (at the whole district and directly at the embankment area). They have also met with the district’s residents and taken into consideration both positive and negative aspects of the renovation project. The light designers have developed several solutions - and the residents and district’s administration could choose the best one of them. The team took multiple factors into account: residents’ opinion, existing architectural features, the spirit and memory of the place, which is historically connected with the Gulf of Finland and connotes thalassocracy of St. Petersburg. Light designers decided to emphasize that the architectural ensemble of the Novosmoslenskaya embankment was originally conceived as the link between the city and surrounding water area - the Smolenka River and the Gulf of Finland.

The current development plan will improve the embankment through lighting. So, the light designers decided to come up with a lighting scheme that will create various zones: a zone for easy communication, new descents to the water, illuminated lower walking level with less bright light, which will be more comfortable for the eye gazing at the water surface, a central zone with fountains, a pontoon in the central zone which can be used for different purposes depending on the season and last, but not least pedestrian zones. Such an approach aims at realization of the three major functions of the new embankment: communication, movement and recreation. These three location functions became the key ones for the renovated embankment. All of them were developed via different light levels and patterns. The renovators’ team decided to divide the general territory of the Novosmolenskaya embankment into two zones: the upper and the lower lines. The light designers’ major task is to highlight the multi-level nature of the territory. So, the upper line has walking paths, recreation areas, sports areas, a network of public transportation stops, descents to the river and transit areas, as well as places where people can communicate freely, making transitions between the two zones. And the lower line provides the possibility of a quiet rest near the water.

Novosmolenskaya Embankment decorated for New Year and Christmas

The light plan, in its turn, is divided into two levels: everyday and holiday modes. According to Natalya Bystryantseva, it’s important for this project to preserve the traditions of differentiation of everyday life and holidays by different types of lighting, which are used in large urban light campaigns. Everyone notices how the city starts living a more vibrant life after the New Year's lighting is installed. It affects everyone’s mood and well-being. So, the holiday mode should be installed in local projects as well. In everyday mode priority lighting is given to the main zones: pedestrian paths and main descents leading to the pontoon and fountains. During the festive period more color will be added and brightness and light graphic stylistics will transform according to the holiday theme. We are planning to work with the water line, emphasizing its light and color, in the future. Lighting devices that designers are planning to use will allow one to change the projected images: therefore, unique graphic symbols will be projected for each season and holiday. All of this will emphasize the style of the place and highlight the concept of "Your Petersburg".

Korablestroiteley Bridge

The projected light columns located at the top line of the embankment work directly for three zones, illuminating the zone of the pedestrian walkways, being also landscape and coastal lighting. The light from the columns practically reaches the surface of the river.

Projected Light Columns at Novosmolenskaya Embankment

In order to give the renovated embankment a “total look” and unified lighting concept, the project suggests directing special lighting at bridges: they will encircle the projected lighting place. Residents are currently discussing the idea of ​​simulating a water cascade along the bridges facades - a technique that is often used in European projects to emphasize the water surface. In addition to that, the facades of houses "on chicken legs" will also get projected lighting as part of the architectural ensemble of the Novosmolenskaya embankment.

Unique light sculptures created in marine style (the shape of sculptures goes back to the sea motives and translates marine atmosphere) were designed and offered specially for the project "Your City" by media-artist Taras Mashtalir. There will be two types of swings installed also, one of which is a swing-light sculpture, integrated into the natural landscape. Light designers have developed an interesting approach to the bicycle parking lot also: as soon as a person drives a bicycle into the parking lot, this element begins to glow. Such unorthodox bicycle parkings already exist. Even though, this project is quite complicated technically, it will give a unique look to the place and emphasize its modernity.

Natalya Bystryantseva

Introduction of Li-Fi technologies that provide communication and transmission of information via light will be yet another unique feature of the renovated embankment. A first-time experiment for Russia will be developed and conducted by ITMO’s Department of Light Technologies and Optoelectronics. Equipment which will allow the users to transmit information through the light will give a unique meaning to the project and will become one of the city’s highlights.

Archive by year: