Feature, Hospitality/Leisure

Elektra makes light work for Billy Beez across Saudi

Elektra Lighting Design develops lighting concept for Billy Beez play centres across Saudi Arabia.

Billy Beez is an indoor, soft-play entertainment centre for children themed around a family of very active and friendly honey bees that live in the rainforest, the leader of whom is Billy Beez. Each adventure land is filled with colourful murals, three dimensional thematic elements and giant play structures built around a maze of high and twisting slides.

Elektra Lighting Design has developed a playful lighting concept that can be rolled out in existing and new Billy Beez stores all across Saudi Arabia. The concept has been devised to fit with the Billy Beez philosophy and the principal lighting themes are the rainbow and a swarm of bees.

“The existing lighting consists mainly of high intensity light fittings that flood the space with uniform light, making surfaces and volumes look uninteresting and flat,” explains Elektra’s project designer Neil Knowles. “The luminaires are generally located only at high level and they emit a poor quality of light that does not render colours vibrantly.”

General lighting is cold white at 4000 Kelvin and lighting is switched on and off. It is not dimmable. High bay lights hung from the ceiling provide general lighting at 125-150 lux, with task lighting to the reception, track-mounted lighting to locations such as the stage and downlights in areas with lower ceilings.

Elektra’s revamp proposes retaining the high bay lighting to provide the general lighting, but connecting it to the lighting control system as part of the installation. The main change is in Elektra’s strong use of colour.

“Elektra’s lighting concept for Billy Beez incorporates two major principal themes that are found spread across the entire space,” says Knowles. “The first principal theme is a rainbow. Borrowing shades of the colour palette, coloured light is used to draw attention or indicate function, circulation and task, depending on the application.”

The rainbow theme is used throughout the centre to draw attention or indicate function, circulation and task

One example is the entrance area, where guests are welcomed by a mysteriously projected rainbow on the floor. The rainbow extends from the cashier point to the entrance gates, leading the way in and drawing children’s attention into the space.

The second theme of Elektra’s lighting concept is a swarm of bees. “The name Billy Beez is an obvious inspiration point for this theme,” explains Knowles. “Bees work in teams and move collectively in nature. These characteristics are translated into a dominant lighting element. Taking into account the use of the space, the swarm moves above main meeting points such as the ball pit ship, in front of the stage and along the long drop slide. Having a high ceiling (7m) allows us to develop the swarm of lights in different levels to add three-dimensionality and texture.”

One simple, yet effective, idea is suggested as a feature for the high level ceilings. Balls taken magically from the ball pit are used to form a swarm of light balls that span across the space to create clusters above areas of importance.                                                        

Elektra is currently working on the scheme design for the first in the chain.