Between December the 18th and January the 7th the usual night time image of Donostia-San Sebastian´s Bay presents subtle variations thanks to precise urban lighting interventions and several activities that involve inhabitants´active participation.
Winter Solstice Call, a celebration of lights looking for darkness
Winter Solstice Call (WSC) is a set of temporary and ephemeral outdoors lighting installations, where people are a vital resource. During winter solstice, which is the darkest period of the year, the usual street lighting of Concha´s Promenade and its surroundings are transformed by subtle artistic interventions encouraging inhabitant and visitors to reflect on our contemporary city nightscapes and the role artificial lighting plays on them.
WSC project begins as a Master Thesis work for Architectural Lighting Design studies developed at KTH Lighting Laboratory in Stockholm. This project is designed and created by Nora Imaz, head of Suartez Lighting Commons and it is part of San Sebastian 2016 European Capital of Culture cultural program. WSC is focused on improving people´s and society´s daily life, by improving our urban environment. For this it makes use of imagination, ingenuity and local resources, involving citizens during the design process and having fun with them. In this sense, Winter Solstice Call aims to inspire and motivate people to create festive lighting scenes that promote local cohesion and generate an active movement that keeps the city alive in this special occasion. This project is also part of the official agenda of IYL2015, the International Year of Light declared by UNESCO.
WSC is essentially a celebration. Our ancestors celebrated winter solstice centuries ago. At the time that artificial lighting did not exist or it was scarce, winter nights remained dark and inhabitants missed sunny days that made it easier to survive. Today we hardly noticed the difference because of the widespread use of artificial lighting. Therefore, this proposal differs from common Chirstmas lighting displays as it maximizes existing urban resources and makes some minimum addition of equipment, enhancing the absence of light.
Different interventions along the bay compose a route that runs from Ondarreta Promenade to Kursaal Auditorium, passing through Concha Promenade, including Pico del Loro, Bicentennial Plaza, and Town Hall Gardens. Some areas include citizens´ involvement and some other are contemplative lighting installations. All of them promote some subtle transformation that maintains coherency with current night city image and at the same time inspire an attractive and special atmosphere.
Overall lighting installation remains displayed for 20 days during Christmas period, from December the 18 th to January the 7th; Pico del Loro pedestrian tunnel resembles to an underwater cave filled with shadows and reflections that transform a crossing space into a gathering place. We do this hanging three mirrored balls from the ceiling and directing narrowed beamed LED projectors mixing warm and cool tonalities. Existing fluorescent tubes are dimmed down thanks to colored filters. Lampposts on Concha Promenade are dressed in splendor thanks to custom made reflectors that look like beautiful seabed shells. Those metallic structures redirect light beams usually going through the sky and reflect them towards the pedestrian path in a warmer tone thanks to an orangish reflecting inner surface. Projectors directed towards the beach are filtered in dark blue tones to lower the actual light levels and have a more comfortable appreciation of the coastline. A sheltered path that goes along Concha Beach becomes a pleasant refuge as if it was an art gallery. Black silhouettes are backlit on existing recessed fixtures that form all together a gradient colour variation. The tour finishes in front of Kursaal Auditorium, whose dominant facade lighting spreads Winter Solstice Call message.
The city of Donostia plays a canvas role where citizens are called outdoors to bring back some missing luminosity in shape of punctual lighting installations;
On Friday, December the 18th, as an opening event, handmade water lamps are handed out to inhabitants that form a march through dim spaces along the coast.
On Tuesday the 22nd, a giant horizontal sculpture is built with over a thousand hand-painted candles made by scholars of San Sebastian.
At last, on January the 7th a guerrilla lighting event will transform different scenarios around Old Town and Town Hall Gardens. This is the closing event for WSC. Those lighting schemes have been designed by students of Architecture at the University of the Basque Country and attendants of Kontadores youth center where lighting design workshops have been held beforehand.
ORGANISING: s u a r t e z + DSS2016EU , COLLABORATING: UPV/EHU, Kontadores, Mendizabala, EES, Difusiona, SPONSORING: Elektra