Christmas lights in Spain by Sebastián Arquitectos, Spanish urban design photos, Winter public realm
Christmas lights in Spain design by Sebastián Arquitectos
21 December 2021
BAUMhaus, Plaza del Cardenal Cisneros, Madrid, Spain
Estrellas, El Paseo de la Independencia, Zaragoza, Spain
Design: Sebastián Arquitectos
Christmas lights ‘Estrellas’ in El Paseo de la Independencia, Zaragoza, Spain:
Photos by Irene Ruiz Bazán and Sebastián Arquitectos
Christmas lights up thanks to aluminium
- Although lights are the stars of Christmas lighting, in many of these structures there is another main character that goes unnoticed: aluminium, a material that is increasingly in demand for the creation of these designs.
- BAUMhaus and Estrellas (Stars), by the architectural studio Sebastián Arquitectos, are two notable examples of Christmas lighting projects that use aluminium as a partner for their structure.
- There are many reasons for choosing this material: its hardness, lightness, ability to reflect light, the greater energy efficiency it favours, its ability to adapt to all designs, as well as its resistance to the passage of time, assembly and disassembly processes, and adverse weather conditions.
Madrid, December 2021 – When this time of the year arrives, our streets and cities are filled with ornaments that tell us that Christmas is getting closer and closer. Among the decorative elements that stand out and impress the most, that offer more possibilities and are the most popular, are the Christmas lights.
Although lights are the stars of lighting, the truth is that in many of these structures there is another main character that goes unnoticed – especially when the bulbs are switched on. This is aluminium, a material which, as the AEA – the Spanish Aluminium and Surface Treatments Association, which represents more than 600 companies in the sector – points out, is increasingly in demand for the creation of these designs.
This “great anonymous” of many Christmas lights is the favourite partner of several architectural studios that are in charge of designing this type of project. Some examples of this can be found in the architectural studio Sebastián Arquitectos. Among the many types of work for which this studio stands out are its Christmas lighting works; some of which are architectural structures of complexity, such as the BAUMhaus that every Christmas since 2019 lights up the Plaza del Cardenal Cisneros, one of the gates of Madrid located in Ciudad Universitaria.
A tree commemorating the centenary of the birth of the Bauhaus with a design that draws on the expressionist lines of Feininger and Larionov. A tree of metallic crystalline geometries baptised BAUM(tree in German)Haus, with a shape that captures the strength of the extraordinary, of the icon, and that performs both by night and by day.
Another project, more recent and with great impact for the observer, is the Estrellas (Stars) project which, for the second consecutive year, illuminates El Paseo de la Independencia in the city of Zaragoza. The shapes on which this project is based are the stars. These are fragmented, turning each of their peaks into independent triangular pieces that, when illuminated, are suspended in the sky. “These pieces of stars are a tribute to the mortal victims of Covid-19, to all those who will no longer be able to spend Christmas time with us”, the studio explains.
Sergio Sebastián Franco, director of Sebastián Arquitectos, states that they opted for aluminium as the material for the structures of these luminous designs for many reasons. The director highlights, among others, the infinite possibilities that aluminium provides for the designs, pointing out that “we could say that the transition from the drawn lines to the aluminium profile is almost immediate, so that the solution thought up in the design phases is practically – and magically – the final product. The versatility of the aluminium sections and their three-dimensional CNC bending and folding capacity allows us to create any type of geometry with almost no limits”.
Another fundamental reason he mentions is its lightness, “as these are structures in which the objetive is to minimise the weight and visual impact of the structure”, which means that is not necessary a high volume of material to create the planned structures. In addition, he adds, “the shiny and specular surface helps to reflect light sources, as well as the daytime sky, so the resistant sections have a lower visual load”.
“The lightness”, says Franco, “added to the strength it allows in profiles, makes it the optimum material for generating all the flat and spatial decorative motifs on which lighting systems can be subsequently fixed”. But that is not all, as he points out that “its ability to reflect light in polished finishes also produces an effect that amplifies the visual intensity of the motif”.
Sebastián Arquitectos adds that in addition to all of the above, and through the use of suitable sections, “we have managed to ensure that the aluminium almost triplicates the reflection of the light source, which not only contributes to greater energy efficiency, but also means that at longer distances, as is the case in some public spaces, distant light sources can be seen with the same intensity as those closer”.
The reasons behind this decision are not few, since in addition to these reasons, “good weather resistance and the ability to be installed in pieces is also fundamental, as aluminium facilitates assembly, disassembly, storage and maintenance tasks”. According to Sebastián Arquitectos, every year the BAUMhaus is a challenge for the installers due to its design, as it requires 8 trailers and 5 days of assembly on site, which makes it one of the most sophisticated installations that have been carried out in the capital city.
“Despite the passing of the years and the complexity of the installation and dismantling processes of this project, the aluminium withstands them and remains intact. Its strength and durability mean that it behaves perfectly and that very few elements that need to be replaced usually are for reasons attributable to transport,” said Sergio Sebastián Franco.
“Both primary aluminium and recycled aluminium have been used to make them, and we are very happy to know that, when they are no longer used in the Christmas installations that are now being used, they can have another life or another purpose, without expiring their usefulness cycle”, adds the director of this study.
The general secretary of AEA, Jon de Olabarria, points out that “this is just one more example of the multiple and infinite drifts that aluminium is experiencing. The increasing presence of this material in our daily lives means that it often goes unnoticed.
What we must not forget is that this are good news, because it points to a production and economic model that is committed to sustainable, durable and recyclable materials, as well as to the Circular Economy”. A 100% recyclable material infinite times that, for this process, only needs to use 5% of the energy required for the production of primary aluminium, “which means that recycling aluminium is much better for the environment than producing it for the first time”, said de Olabarria.
The promoters of these works have been the Madrid City Council and Zaragoza City Council (Infrastructure Area) respectively.
Photo: Estrellas – Sebastián Arquitectos. All rights reserved©
Photos: BAUMhaus – Irene Ruiz Bazán. All rights reserved ©
Comments on this Christmas lights in Spain by Sebastián Arquitectos are welcome.
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