• 23 October 2019

Bright sparks taking on Nightgeist Lighting

With events taking place across the UK, the Nightgeist Lighting competition allows industry professionals and novices to take part in an hour-long external lighting installation task which saw the winners going on to compete in the finals at the beautiful Monastero di San Pietro in Lamosa, Italy, at the end of September.

Organised by lighting supplier, Zumtobel, this year Principal Electrical Engineer, Peter Leyden, and Senior Engineer, Jake Rowarth, joined the heats in Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry. Here, Peter explains what it took to make a shining impression on the judges.

Jake was invited to last year’s Nightgeist Lighting by a representative from Zumtobel but, unfortunately, he didn’t get past the first heat. He told me how much fun he’d had and persuaded me to go along with him this year. We arrived at the Museum at 6pm, allowing us enough time to meet everyone and begin the installation in time for it to get nice and dark, meaning the lights could be seen clearly for the judging. As it was just the two of us, Jake and I were teamed up with nine other individuals from different practices in Manchester and Preston.

There isn’t a formal brief for the installations, however each team is provided with plugs, extension leads, lights, coloured plastic, tape and some photos of the area we would be using within the Museum. We were given a really cool vintage electrical generator van located within the courtyard and had one hour to tell our story: a van driver waking up in the early hours and driving around during a cold morning to serve customers. Each team chose a specific place for the judges to view the installation from, allowing us to hide any cables out of their line of vision, and it was a fantastic opportunity to show our skills. The judges were really impressed, putting us through to the finals alongside three other teams from London, Wales and Scotland. There was also one team selected from ZGUK who supplied the lighting for the competition.

Due to family commitments, Jake couldn’t join me in Italy, but I arrived at the medieval town of Iseo on Thursday 26 September where the teams were given their briefs for the final installation: we would all be working within the Monastero di San Pietro, a monastery that was built near Lake Iseo back in the 11th century.

Our team were appointed to the Apsis Garden, one of the oldest parts of the monastery that was constructed out of stone from the mountains opposite. As the installation had to relate to the monastery and its surroundings, we discovered there is a cross on the top of the hill called the Balota del Coren and talked about how the garden echoed the mountain and the cross. We then researched one definition of ‘apsis’ which means the furthest points in the orbit of a planet, using this to relate to the structure around the altar.

On Friday 27 September, we waited until 6pm to begin and had two hours to provide a completed design for the judges. Using the different recesses, windows and doorways of the building’s exterior, it really was a case of trial and error to position the lights and see what looked good. The final design was quite different to our original plans, but we were still really pleased with the outcome.

Despite our best efforts, the team from London won and, although we obviously felt robbed of our victory, enjoyed the rest of the trip as we took in the views of Milan and visiting the Duomo di Milano.

All in all, it was really exciting to get so far and see our ideas come to life. Travelling to such a picturesque site in Italy was a once in a lifetime experience and, even though we didn’t win, I feel privileged to have been allowed to explore some of the more artistic aspects of being a Building Services Engineer.

Peter Leyden

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