Feature, Outdoor

LEDs bring unrivalled precision to the outdoor light in this Austrian ski resort

Town planners were keen to light the river at light

A past winner of the title of most beautiful village in Europe, Lech is a picture-postcard ski resort perched at a height of 1,400m in Austria’s Arlberg mountain range. And with 1,500 inhabitants and 8,300 hotel rooms, it thrives on tourism.

Now a new outdoor lighting system from Zumtobel has transformed Lech’s appearance at night.

‘The existing streetlighting system with its obsolete technology was simply not up to contemporary requirements any more,’ says Karlheinz Egger of the Lech building authority. 

Each luminaire contains a number of LEDs targeted in different directions

Still, it took a lot of persuading to win over political decision-makers, administrators and the local hotelkeepers when it came to specifying a new LED lighting scheme.

Lighting designer Dieter Bartenbach worked with local manufacturer Zumtobel to come up with a new way to illuminate the town and its river.

Bartenbach described the situation he found at Lech as a ‘lighting mess’, with diffuse, untargeted general light drowned out by bright light from shop windows and advertising.

Precise control
The new lighting scheme is designed to highlight particular features and define spaces.

The luminaire that Zumtobel developed for the project uses a number of separate LED points, so light is much more precisely controlled, and glare is minimised. The modular design makes the system similar to a set of building blocks: the luminaires can be configured with between six and 34 LED points, each using about 2W. For the columns, too, Zumtobel has developed various different versions of the luminaire, depending on the location. The new system made much more linear lighting – of the main street, house façades and the river Lech – possible.

The custom lighting system developed for Lech has become the basis of Zumtobel’s new Supersystem outdoor product (see box).
The planners were particularly keen to illuminate the river at night, to try to bring the river back into the town. The river’s banks and walls are reflected along the watercourse and make for a dynamic image captivating the viewer through the movement of the current, and creating a three-dimensional effect.

Winning over the hoteliers
Luminaire heads are now installed on the hotel façades instead of on columns, giving better illumination of the façades, which helped to win over the hotel owners who financed the changes.

The luminaires each contain a radio sensor so they can be controlled wirelessly using a specially developed web-based system. From dusk until 10pm, all areas are lit, then at 10pm the façade lights are switched off. At midnight, streetlighting is dimmed to a low ambient level.

Not only does the new lighting make the town look better, the improved light distribution means the new luminaires also waste less energy and disturb wildlife less than the ones they replaced.