Projected Image Digital (PID) working closely with lighting design practice Mindseye Lighting has specified, supplied, and installed 437 nodes of Element Labs VersaPixel, 437 custom-polished, lacquered aluminium tubes and control for a dynamic light sculpture in the foyer of the iconic Rotunda in Birmingham, England.

The distinct cylindrical Grade II Listed 266 ft tall high-rise tower was designed by James A Roberts and originally completed in 1965 as a 25-story office block. Last month, it was reopened as a high profile residential development featuring 232 luxury apartments and a complete makeover by designers Urban Splash and architects Glen Howels.

London-based Mindseye Lighting as asked to come up with a dynamic eye-catching feature for the entrance to bring life, personality and vitality into the space. They contacted PID following a referral from LED manufacturer Element Labs as specialists in digital lighting and media. PID worked to the design brief of Mindseye’s Rachel Jonesto provide an LED lighting feature, control and media content.

The 9 metre, glass-fronted Rotunda atrium overlooks Birmingham’s busy New Street pedestrian and shopping hub. The 45mm round VersaPixels are fitted into the ends of the custom built polished aluminium tubes which are arranged in a wave shape, hanging like a giant chandelier. The highest ones are 6 meters off the ground and the longest tubes are also 6 meters long.

The polished aluminium creates some interesting reflections that shoot up the tubes, and the whole feature helps evoke a three dimensional space via highly effective lighting. The contours and layout has been carefully considered to maximize viewing interest and angles, with 46 rows of tubes running front to back of the space, totaling 940 meters.

The form and shape of the sculpture was carefully laid out on the floor before being transferred to the ceiling and lined up using a laser leveler. The ceiling is specially designed with a calculated weight loading to enable the tubes to be fixed directly to it. This is achieved via bayonet type aluminium internal tube fixing brackets, complete with custom spring safety clips, which PID had fabricated.

Ahead of the ceiling installation, the cables were pre-hung and labeled in the roof before being carefully pulled through and plastered around once the ceiling was in place.

A major challenge for the PID installation team was the strict aesthetic guidelines stipulated by the architects. No access hatches were permitted anywhere in the atrium for control equipment and no fixings or bracketry could be visible, giving the impression that the tubes simply disappear into the ceiling.

So the 3 Element Labsä PSUBBs and 16 PHUB32s had to be located in special external access hatches. This in turn meant that 437 custom 9 meter pixel cables also had to be created for each of the pixels, as well as the internal ‘bayonet’ fixings with the custom spring safety clips. This allows each of the 437 tubes to be individually removed from the bottom for easy maintenance.

The VersaPixels are controlled from behind the reception desk via an 8 button user interface, a Pharos LPC-1 and an Element Labsä VersaÒ DRIVE C1. Eight custom video clips were created by PID following a client-designed storyboard, providing 8 different lighting scenes. The Pharos LPC-1 runs a timed sequence, scrolling sequentially through the clips which can be bypassed via the push button panel.

Rachel Jones comments, “PID were extremely dedicated to this project from the outset, and like us, they wanted to achieve the best possible result for this prestigious building. They were not easily fazed by the challenges we threw at them and strived to solve any problems we came across. They were a vital part in the success of this installation and the result is fantastic.”