T Galleria, Macau

Picture: Courtesy of DFS

City of Dreams is an entertainment resort, leisure and entertainment destination located on the Cotai strip in Macau, China. Developed, owned and operated by Melco Crown Entertainment (MCE) the property currently features a 420,000sqft casino, with 450 gaming tables and approximately 1,300 gaming machines; over 20 restaurants, various entertainment options including the House of Dancing Waters, one of the largest aquatic themed live theatre shows in the world, soon four luxury hotels with 2,200 rooms and, since December 2016, a 400,000sqft luxury shopping experience exhibiting an impressive array of some of the world’s most sought-after retail brands. This retail experience, T Galleria, is a sophisticated department store concept created, managed and operated by DFS, a leading international luxury travel retailer.

Opened in phases between April and December 2016, the City of Dreams’ T Galleria – the one-mile-long retail complex consisting of two beauty and fragrances halls, two fashion and accessories floors engulfing a central male and female shoe salon and the watches and jewelry boulevards – surround the central casino and create a 24/7 pedestrian link to the hotels, leisure and public areas, forming the largest luxury retail complex in southern China.

The lighting design development started in 2013, leading to a nine-month staggered opening throughout 2016. DFS’ client brief asked for a contemporary, high-end, sophisticated department store with a residential feeling throughout different neighbourhoods – focused zones of related merchandise – as coined by the interior architect team of Charles Sparks. To deal with the immense scale of the property (with ceilings up to 21-metres) the first steps of the lighting concepts were to apply urban planning principles of vistas, landmarks and elaborating the sense of space. Large light feature objects and walls were developed and strategically placed, creating a sense of rhythm established by deliberately darker zones in portals, dissecting the long boulevards into a navigable human scale of smaller side streets. Each neighbourhood has been distinguished by special ambient light colours and different lighting methods in contrast to the neutral piers between the shops. This visual dramaturgy for an intuitive, relaxed and free orientation through the multi-storey retail complex has been further expressed in a design language unifying the different brands by architecturally integrated shop frame lighting, which establishes warmth, rhythm and vertical lighting. Combining architectural lighting integration with continuous perimeter cove lighting and low glare, minimally intrusive, non-technical looking pinhole downlights, a relaxed peripheral perception and intuitive orientation of the customer was promoted.

Most theme-based lighting integrated landmarks and features, allowing further differentiation of the various neighbourhoods, were developed until detail design but for budget reasons were superseded in the building process by more flexible visual merchandise, art and design installations. Also, the lighting was adapted post opening to a mainly track and spot approach, serving the intended visual merchandising retail theatre.

Due to the nine-metre corridor ceiling height in the fashion area, and the wish to simplify the electrical installation throughout all parts of the store, Lichtkompetenz designed an LED pinhole downlight family (bespoke by iGuzzini) to further help a uniform, non-technical and glare-controlled appearance, safeguarding visual comfort and residential feeling in all ambient and retail areas. ‘‘Designing our own visually consistent downlight series was a necessity,’’ said Jörg Frank Seemann, Lighting Design Director, Lichtkompetenz. ‘‘Not only to react to budget constraints and different lumen packages provided by the same outer fixture appearance over the different ceiling heights from two, seven to nineteen-metres, but mainly to allow for well-balanced contrast ratios of artificial product, ambient and natural lighting to help guide attention (lux levels & light temperature).’’

The nature of the collaboration between MCE and DFS required an immense amount of coordination, clear budget control and five months of alternative lighting reviews with Chinese lighting manufacturers. This involved a lot of budget weighing and the celebration of the luxury goods with excellent quality of light for true colour and material perception, enhancing and respecting the human perception with mild colour temperature contrast and high colour rendering in mind. After all, lighting a Jimmy Choo with CRI 80 is simply not an option.

‘‘These bespoke work horse fixtures also allowed Lichtkompetenz to keep within the lighting power density standards of the LVMH sustainability requirements for each ‘maison’, i.e. the standards our client DFS has to meet,’’ explained Seemann. Whilst reducing maintenance and energy costs, it further supported the dimmable day and night scenography (control system) in the clock-free casino environment under the burning sun of Macau.

Where during day time the three-storey main atrium – housing southern China’s largest male and female shoe salon and a restaurant arranged around a grand staircase – receives up to 16,000lx of daylight through a curved glass roof, designed by the base built and coordinating architects Woods Bagot, the ground floor woman’s shoes department display still needed to attract attention and not appear like a cave. Therefore artificial lighting intensities double during the day, whilst at night time less light is needed to cross the significant contrast threshold.

For its psychological and energy saving benefits, Lichtkompetenz embraced the intent to use daylight as part of a well balanced visual atmosphere and developed light guiding and shading louvers with integrated artificial lighting under the twenty-metre-long skylight, which had to be omitted in construction stage due to cost savings.

Moving towards a consistent day and night appearance, promoting a sense of height and luxurious spaciousness, the 21-metre high Esplanade ceilings day lit via clearstory windows were intended to show the same effect during night time with the help of concealed indirect artificial uplights. Provided in different light qualities and intensities, these luminaires enrich the space throughout the evening, starting at a 6,000K and ending at 2,700K at sunset, uniting with the overall ambient lighting.

Indirect cove up-lighting at the lower levels void perimeter balances the brightness of the day-lit Esplanade ceilings.

In other daylight openings, the artificial lighting was intended to mimic the naturally given direction of light (central court glass roof), or vertical emphasis, to pattern walls, simulating a daylight effect by the employment of light slots and floating ceiling effects to create suggested architectural lightness.

Upon reflection, Seemann concluded: ‘‘Throughout three and a half years of budget and concept changes of sixteen tender addendum packages, our testing and ongoing physical testing and virtual lighting mock ups, it was ensured that the product is the most important element; illuminated in appealing colour temperatures and in line with human perception of visitors and workers so that the slots can keep ringing, fountains flowing and lights beaming – outside.’’