Totally Lit: innovative LED displays in Melbourne

4 min

From the Paris End down to the Docklands, there are now two attention grabbing architectural LED light displays book-ending Collins Street.

The city of Melbourne has some unique and impressive structures amongst its ever-expanding CBD core. The commanding skyline that comes into view as you approach by car from the airport suggests Shanghai rather than the second biggest city (currently) in Australia. Amongst this burgeoning metropolis is the striking office tower of 101 Collins Street, which has been a staple feature of the Paris End of Collins Street since 1991. However, at end of October this year, 101 Collins added something a little extra to their aesthetic repertoire – they have commenced a nightly light show. 

Each night, on the hour, 700m of linear LED lights – capable of displaying 16 million different colours – extend from the building’s 43rd floor to the top of the 260-metre high spires. These LEDs have different displays that adapt to reflect the changing seasons, as well as aligning with cultural and sporting events in the city. This is a nightly statement echoing those epic scale light shows in New York and Paris. 

The show’s RGB LED lighting technology is up to 50% more energy efficient than the previous energy source. Designed by renowned engineering firm ARUP, programmed and delivered by bluebottle and the 500+ Philips Color Kinetics lighting fixtures installed by Brolec, the show uses a 3D canvas for displaying layered content on the building’s different surfaces.

At the other end of Collins Street, in the growing Docklands district, an impressive 15-storey residential building has been displaying a different type of LED light show for some time now; one that interprets the weather.

The artist responsible for this installation is Canadian-born Bruce Ramus, who has previously worked with, amongst others, global rock giants U2 and the late David Bowie. He also designed the world’s largest permanent interactive light installation - Sydney’s Darling Quarter.

The Light House at 888 Collins has 58,000 LED lights that illuminate every evening and they are completely powered by energy produced from the building’s rooftop solar panels. This illumination is Melbourne’s first real-time weather display as vertical lines of LED light intuitively combine to visually represent the changing weather and temperatures.  On the hour, the building’s projects the next day’s weather forecast courtesy of data fed through from AEMO's strategic partners at the Bureau of Meteorology. This delivers a dual purpose of an eye catching visual display and satisfying Melbournite’s obsessions with the weather!

These two buildings and their pioneering use of LEDs demonstrate what’s possible when great architecture and innovative energy use combine. For those in (or visiting) Melbourne, it might be worth the leisurely 3km stroll down Collins Street one summer evening to see these two illuminations for yourself. 

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*101 Collins Street video and hero image courtesy of Jessie Obialor @ Papermill Media

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