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SILO 468, Helsinki, Finland

THE CHALLENGE: Create a visually striking re-use of an abandoned oil storage tank that would not only serve as new public space, but in turn, could help spark planned redevelopment efforts in Helsinki in time for the 2012 World Design Capital. THE SOLUTION Using a grid of LEDs and innovative control known as “flocking” systems, lighting group LDC came up with custom software that responds to real-time weather conditions, including wind speed and direction, to make Silo 468’s 1,280 white LEDs appear to flicker and sway on its surface. PROJECT CREDITS

Client: City of Helsinki Architects: Poyry Finland Oy Lighting Designer: Lighting Design Collective Project Manager: HKR Executive PRODUCTS

3-watt LED domes provided by Traxon Technologies. Visit or Circle 289. Control system provided by e-cue. Visit or Circle 290.

TRUE PUBLIC SPACE There is no charge to groups or individuals who wish to stage an event at Silo 468. “So far, there have been TV show filmings, poetry evenings, weddings, dinners, dance events and a fire juggler,” says designer Tapio Rosenius. When there are no events, the interior becomes a quiet and contemplative space.

lighting designers can change light patterns by

from the original interior rust patterns, except

having the software respond to parameters such

for the north wall, which has no perforations,”

for the very late evening, Rosenius says. All the

as wind speed, direction, temperature, snow

says Rosenius.

interior lighting from the suspended LED grid

and the clearness of the night sky. The “swarm”

Sunlight fills the interior space with dap-

aspect of the software refers to its mimicking of

pled shadows during the day. “With sunlight, the

the patterns of birds or insects in flight, as well

silo’s exterior appears to glimmer and sparkle

as schools of fish. “The program creates a par-

like the surface of the water below,” he indicates.

ticle system combining motion behavior of these

To replicate similar effects at night, the

The warm white of the exterior turns red

media mesh is reflected back into the space from the dark red-painted walls. At midnight, exterior floodlights turn the surface deep red for an hour. “The color refers to the container’s former use as a repository for

creatures to create organic and non-repetitive

team called for the installation of 1,280 custom

the production of energy that is still finding its

animations,” says Rosenius.

LED luminaire domes. Each light is controlled

way out,” believes Rosenius. “At 2:30 a.m., when

individually. At a relatively warm 2700K, the

the last ferry goes past Silo 468 on its way to the

control of the LED array is executed using pixel

LEDs, supplied by Traxon, are fitted behind the

island of Suomenlinna, the lights go off.“

mapping techniques. LDC’s control application

cut-outs of the structure’s surface. Also behind

was developed in OpenFrameworks and runs in

the holes are 450 steel mirrors that respond to

notes the actual power load of the structure dur-

an e:cue Lighting Control Engine mx server.

wind movements.

ing operation is about 2 kW, or roughly 2 watts

Data is gathered through an RSS feed, and

“The system dials out every five minutes for

Despite the intense light show, Rosenius

per. sq. meter.

Day Dreamer

new data,” Rosenius explains. “The patterns are

Nature also comes to bear in the use of natural

fluid and never repeat. They are basically slow,

light. The tank is perforated with 2012 holes—a

but speed up in response to the wind velocity,

silo’s metamorphosis, a floor was installed, along

reference to the city’s year-long celebration.

producing constantly changing murals of light,”

with a rigging infrastructure, power, water and

“Daylight seeps in through the openings derived

he says.

emergency and cleaning lighting.•


The cost of launching the silo structure into its new life was $2.6 million (U.S.). As part of the

Architectural SSL - January 2013  

Chronicling the Advancement of LED and Solid-State Lighting in the Built Environment.

Architectural SSL - January 2013  

Chronicling the Advancement of LED and Solid-State Lighting in the Built Environment.