Building Magazine


Giant lampshades create ingenious urban lighting in Qubec City

Currently on Cartier Avenue in Québec City, 34 giant backlit lampshades, decorated with selected works by Alfred Pellan and Fernand Leduc from the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, are hanging over the street. The installation is an original concept by Lightemotion, the lighting design firm that illuminates building façades and interiors in Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania.

“Our major challenge was to respect the soul of Cartier Avenue, while being bold enough to create a world-class project that would help make Québec City a true international winter capital,” said François Roupinian, founder and president of Lightemotion.

Art and the cozy neighbourhood

Aiming to capture the identity of Cartier Avenue, Lightemotion sought a lighting concept that could express the warmth of a neighbourhood life characterized by a strong community spirit. At the same time, the installation needed to be spectacular enough to be an event in itself. The idea of hanging lampshades was a perfect fit for those objectives. On the one hand, the shape of the lighting fixtures gives the avenue the cozy warmth of a residential interior. On the other hand, the large artworks, backlit by LED strips and mounted on circular structures 8 feet across by 5 feet high, are an original urban medium for displaying art.

A flexible concept

Lightemotion designed the positioning, shape and size of its lampshades so as to compose an environment capable of creating movement in the city, while working within Cartier Avenue’s technical and architectural constraints.

The city’s major museum of fine arts, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, helped turn the 34 lampshades into a temporary outdoor art gallery. The museum selected works by two Québécois painters, Alfred Pellan and Fernand Leduc, from its permanent collection and handled artistic direction for their reproduction on the giant lighting fixtures.

While the winter exhibition is designed to be temporary (it is scheduled to continue until the end of March), Lightemotion’s creation has the advantage of being flexible. The works mounted on the shades can be easily replaced to feature a different artist or theme every year. That capability suggests a vast range of possibilities for the system of displaying suspended backlit materials, whether it be art, urban-art competition entries, concert posters or images of different aspects of neighbourhood life. Moreover, the existing project includes provisions for the re-use of the lighting fixtures to create new annual shows for the next five years.

A vehicle for urban identity

The project is part of a master plan proposed by Lightemotion in 2013 to the Office du Tourisme de Québec, which calls for the illumination of several more major arteries. The Société de développement commercial du quartier Montcalm (the neighbourhood’s business improvement association), in collaboration with the municipality, the Office du Tourisme and the Musée des beaux-arts, commissioned Lightemotion to design the master plan’s first lighting component for Cartier Steet. More than a simple street installation, the project is a true vehicle for expressing urban identity. Emphasizing the importance of light for northern cities, the Office du Tourisme de Québec plans to use this type of installation to highlight its tourism programs and promote the city internationally as a winter capital.

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