GOTHAM and SunMast by 3XN and Scotia

While the world is paying attention to the proceedings of the Copenhagen Climate Conference, select members of the A+D community are focusing on where it takes place, the city’s Bella Center. More specifically, their parking lot, where architecture and lighting firms collaborated in order to illustrate “the feasibility of emissions-free lighting even at northern latitudes.” In 2007, architecture firm 3XN established a Research & Development department known as GXN, which “scans the market and the latest research for pioneering ideas, focusing on green and digital architecture, new materials, technology, and working methods.”

GOTHAM and SunMast. Designed by 3XN and Scotia.

For the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December 2009, the GXN team of 3XN developed GOTHAM, an LED luminaire that uses solar energy for efficient street lighting. The GOTHAM lamp head is designed by Kim Herforth Nielsen, Bo Boje Larsen, Kasper Guldager Jørgensen, and Mathias Kræmmergaard Kristensen. Based on cutting-edge solar cell technology, GOTHAM works specifically in conjunction with a mast created by the new Danish lighting firm Scotia. Their SunMast lighting column is also solar-powered—making the combined result more than adequate: “The advanced technology results in the street lamps generating more energy than they use,” so the lights feed energy back into the power grid.


But GOTHAM and SunMast aren’t just a “CO2-neutral street lighting solution.” The large outdoor lamps also had to fulfill a specific design goal: “a very sculptural expression—with a veiled reference to the lamp’s futuristic LED technology,” says Kim Herforth Nielsen of 3XN. Using origami as inspiration, the GOTHAM luminaire takes advantage of the geometric forms that result from the art of paper folding. The lamp head also took the wind into account; it “contains folds which in addition to being very aesthetic are very functional.” Only recently have companies turned their attention to solar-powered outdoor lighting (see Qnuru and Lovegrove’s Solar Tree). The slow rise of solar street lamps is understandable, since solar power itself has yet to gain widespread popularity. Perhaps the news focus on the Copenhagen Climate Conference will have everyone seeing the light.

All photos by Adam Mork

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