Trains may no longer pull into the old railway station in Curitiba, Brazil, but the country's first urban entertainment center has been built around this historic building which dates from the 1800s. Based on the theme of transportation, from trains to airplanes, Estacao Plaza Show covers an entire city block, with numerous boutiques, restaurants, and entertainment options ranging from an open-air discotheque to a 10-screen multiplex cinema. Walkways from one area to another are covered by a glass-roofed canopy with open sides.
" 'Estacao' means 'station' in Portuguese," explains Addison Kelly, IALD, a New York City-based lighting designer, whose firm, US Lighting Consultants, was responsible for the exterior site lighting for the public spaces of this project, which opened last year. "The lighting is used to guide and orient visitors as they walk along pathways." Kelly developed a vocabulary of pole-mounted fixtures in various sizes, to provide functional lighting and add to the thematic nature of the environment. The main path, which leads from the main gate to the cinema and food court past the dance floor and onto the secondary entrance, is lit with tall, slender light poles with metal-halide heads and asymmetric reflectors.
Branches off the main path are lit by lower poles with incandescent heads, to give a more human scale to the lighting. All the light poles incorporate speakers that are wired into a central audio/visual system for site-wide acoustic control. All architectural fixtures for the project were manufactured locally. "Brazil is one of the biggest manufacturing countries in the world. It can make anything," Kelly points out. "There is no history of imports in architectural lighting, while for entertainment lighting, they may use some products from Italy." Almost all the lamps used on the project are by Osram Sylvania, which has a manufacturing plant in Brazil.
Kelly's concept for the lighting calls for a clean, modern look that does not compete with the decorative graphics and themed elements that echo railroad crossings and train signals. "It's like a little town, or a model railroad set," she says. In keeping with the rhythms of Brazil, however, the light poles are staggered along pathways, rather than set in symmetrical patterns. Kelly's color palette is pale and natural with a great deal of white light. "The color in the lighting comes from individual stores," she says, noting that each store and restaurant in the complex was responsible for its own lighting.
"This is not just a block-like mall. Each store appears to have its own storefront like on a main street in a small town." Some of the false window openings and faux cornices are outlined with neon and fluorescent accent lighting to add color to the facades and pick out architectural details. "The feeling at night is almost like Times Square," notes Kelly.
The old railroad station has been converted to a railway museum, the Museu de Ferrovaria. "I lit it like the historic building it is," says Kelly, who used high-pressure sodium floodlighting to complement the warm stucco of the facade, and to contrast with the cooler metal-halide used in the interiors. Inside, the former station platform was transformed into a pedestrian arcade linking various shops and the entrance to the museum. The original wrought-iron columns support new metal-halide fixtures that highlight the new corrugated metal roof.
Light sparkles along a lake area, a long, shallow pool that changes elevations and passes under bridges as it meanders along. Each change in elevation is marked by a series of small waterfalls lit by low-voltage underwater uplights. The perimeter of the lake is defined by incandescent globes set just below the lake edge to form a glittering necklace of light. "We buried the lights on the underside of the ledge to make the water look deeper than it is," explains Kelly. She used similar lights under the platform of a restaurant area built upon a wooden deck. These are mounted above the water to provide dramatic reflections.
The bridges are constructed of different materials, so Kelly's lighting treatment for each is different, from steplights set into the vertical members of the balustrade to fluorescent uplights on a faux railroad trestle whose railings are made of metal cables. Fountains in the lake can be programmed to go on at the same time as a performance on a floating stage. "Low-voltage underwater accent lights highlight the plumes of water," says Kelly.
A food court area is designed with an aviation theme, complete with small airplanes hanging from the ceiling. Here Kelly used a mix of metal-halide and incandescent lamps, as well as some old industrial pendants. "These look like they are doing the lighting, but there are actually low-voltage incandescent Osram Superspots hidden in the armature of the ceiling structure," she explains.
"The feeling at Estacao Plaza Show is very Brazilian," Kelly says. "There is a lot of texture and a lot going on. It's very animated with color and sound. The vista is always changing." The area around the old railroad station has been revitalized and is alive with light, almost as if somewhere back in time the people waiting for the train were having a block party.