Ireland – The Phoenix Column’s rebirth
A very recognisable icon within the Phoenix Park has been added to an extensive list of world-renowned heritage sites and National monuments, which have been beautifully lit up with LED colour changers in Ireland’s capital city by Enlighten, a Fantasy Lights Group company.
The Phoenix Column on Chesterfield Avenue in the Phoenix Park was lit up on September, 18th by Mrs Sabina Higgins, wife of President Michael D. Higgins, who promoted this brilliant initiative. Originally erected in 1747 by the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, the fluted Corinthian Phoenix Column in Portland stone stands on a tall lettered pedestal. Its base features a carved inscription recording Chesterfield’s beneficence while the top is crowned with a fanciful rococo interpretation of the mythical phoenix. During the early part of the twentieth century, the column was moved from the centre of the avenue to the side to facilitate motor-racing. The Office of Public Works (OPW) moved it back to its prominent position right in the centre of Phoenix Park during the 1990s.
Ringed by a wall 11km (7 miles) long, Phoenix Park with over 1700 acres in size is Europe’s largest enclosed city park. Its name probably derives from the Gaelic Fionn Uisce, meaning “clear water”, which refers to a spring that rises near the Phoenix Column. Established in 1662 as a royal deer hunting park, it was later landscaped and opened to the public by the Earl of Chesterfield, becoming an important area for biodiversity in Dublin, home to more than 350 plant species, including three rare and endangered types.
The lighting of the Phoenix Column is part of the OPW plan to highlight iconic heritage sites and State buildings in Dublin, such as Kilmainham Jaol, The President of Ireland’s Home, the fountains and front entrance gates of Áras an Uachtaráin, all lit up by GRIVEN’s exclusive distributor for Ireland, Enlighten, a Fantasy Lights Group company.
The lighting scheme approved by the OPW required a full illumination of the column from its pedestal to the phoenix on its top in bright, lively colours with the possibility to switch to different hues according to the occasions. Moreover, owing to the position of the monument right in the centre of a very congested roundabout, the fixtures should be positioned in a sheltered area in order not to dazzle the car drivers nor to run the risk of being driven over. GRIVEN’s exclusive partner for Ireland, Enlighten, based on the lighting design conceived by Gabriel Byrne, chose powerful, but at the same time compact, recessed LED fixtures for the highlighting of the Phoenix column: DUNE MK2 in RGBW version with elliptical optics selection. Controlled by DMX, the units were embedded in specifically designed semi round metal hoods located at the four corners around the column, which at the same time could protect the fixtures from possible collisions and the cars from light leakings.
DUNE MK2 RGBW, a highly performing LED colour changer specifically designed for exterior recessed applications, is based on a combination of RGBW LEDs offering an unprecedented astonishing white light output quality as well as a wider variety of intermediate colour hues. Narrow aperture spot lenses and elliptical wide distribution are part of the optional selection of optics groups available. A 2000 Kg deadweight load capacity makes this IP67 rated colour changer suitable for ground mounting applications even in vehicled areas. This versatile fixture also allows beam positioning through 10° moving capability.
Gabriel Byrne, Managing Director at Enlighten and Chairman of the Lighting Association Ireland, asserts: “As the Phoenix monument is positioned in the centre of a roundabout on a very busy road, the design team had to ensure that there was no light leakage that could affect oncoming cars. To resolve this, we designed a cowl with a special flexible mounting spring that would keep the fittings in place at the required angle. The cowls were also painted in a colour that blends with the cobblestones hue. The final objective of the cowl was to ensure the resistance to the possible impact of large vehicles on the light fittings.”
There is always a special joy at seeing these monuments lit up at night and their colour changing mood encourages the visitor to look at these sites in a more attentive way, enlivening even the most dull urban spaces with a sparkling atmosphere.