Urafiki by LEDS C4

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An immersive light experience in the gardens of the Teatre Grec in Barcelona

The installation, designed by the LEDS C4 lighting projects team as part of the Festival Grec, is inspired by a Nigerian folktale that celebrates friendship, and is recreated in the characteristic colours of an African sunset.

LEDS C4 is participating once again in the Grec Festival in Barcelona (27 June – 31 July), designing a lighting installation in keeping with this year's main theme: Africa. In this edition, the festival of scenic arts in Barcelona hopes to transmit light and optimism, and to bring us closer to a continent that may seem far away but which accompanies us in many ways.

For the occasion, LEDS C4 proposes that visitors to the gardens of the Teatre Grec in Montjuïc – one of the main festival sites – travel through nature and time accompanied by its lighting installation Urafiki (friendship in Swahili). The project connects two cultures in a single space-time, celebrating friendship thanks to a live dynamic colour transition experience.

Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky: Ode to friendship in a Nigerian folktale

The LEDS C4 lighting exhibition in the gardens of the Teatre Grec is based on a legend from the tribes of southeast Nigeria, compiled for the western world by the English writer Elphinstone Dayrell, Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky, and the moral of which extols the absolute value of friendship.

The Sun, the Moon and the Water are good friends, they play together at the Water’s house, but the Water never returns their visits. Upon insistence, one day he decides to go, but not before warning them that he needs a lot of space, because of his numerous friends and family. The Sun and the Moon decide to build a garden to host their friend, but when he and his relatives start to arrive, there is less and less room. Time passes and water continues to flood everything, until finally, the Sun and the Moon, so as not to offend their friend the Water, end up moving to the sky, leaving all the room available on earth for the Water. “And the sun and the moon were forced to go up into the sky, where they have remained ever since”, the story ends.

Festival Grec 21

The LEDS C4 lighting project reinterprets this beautiful tale, focusing on the transition of time and the colour of a sunset. Thus, following on from Grec’s twinning of African and Mediterranean cultures, the colours of the African savannah are brought to the heart of the culture of Barcelona. Tradition, nature and colour thanks to an immersive experience.

From the African Savannah to Barcelona

And if the legend “Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky” provides the seed for the concept of the lighting installation, the choice of the colours comes from another corner of Africa. On this occasion, from the magnificent geography of Lake Malawi (belonging to Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania) and its iconic sunsets.

The users who access the grounds of the Teatre Grec, whether to have a walk, sample the delights of the restaurant or enjoy one of the Festival’s shows, will experience a colourful light transition, with a different atmosphere that varies as the hours go by.

The main element of the design is a circle, representing the minimum expression of the sun, spread all over the site. The rings have been designed by the LEDS C4 Special Projects Department. A total of 16 have been installed at a height of 3 m on minimalist structures, each with a diameter of 1.5 m, and strategically placed throughout the Teatre Grec gardens. From 7 pm to midnight, from east to west, they reproduce the transition of colours of the sunset. This colour transition has been thoroughly studied and programmed wirelessly in the 16 rings that make up the installation, reproducing the sunset thanks to a built-in LED strip in the ring. These circles are accompanied by other ground-mounted luminaires in the restaurant area and the garden walkways, symbolising water and friendship. Among them, the Cube Pro model, new in the 2021 Architectural Collection catalogue. A collection of high-performance cubic floodlights with an elegant and minimalist shape, allowing the beam of light to be directed where it is needed.

Thus, at the end of the evening, we are welcomed by cooler tones, representing water and the idea of friendship, which gradually transform into more orangey tones, reproducing the sunset, until turning lilac as the real sun disappears, representing the night, combined with a blue lighting environment. As time goes by, and the colour transition progresses, the blue of the water, representing friendship, floods everything.

Grec Festival 2021

Technical specifications

•    The 16 light rings are programmed wirelessly to achieve this colour transition.
•    Every ring is designed so as not to dazzle visitors.
•    The entire lighting installation is energy-saving.
•    In addition to the 16 custom-made rings, there are LED strips, Cube Pro RGBW floodlights (thanks to RGBW, blue lighting can be projected in the area of the pergolas to simulate water, etc.), Tron lights for the restaurant, and the Taglio Surface model for the fountain area.
•    A dynamic space has been created thanks to the LEDS C4 Ready To Play service, creating scenes pre-set by the LEDS C4 lighting projects team.