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080 PROJECT / GRAND MOSQUE, ABU DHABI
Nothing prepares you for your first sight of Municipalities and Agriculture, under- brief.”
of the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nayhan standably sought an equally inspiring yet “The approach we took was to link the
Mosque (let’s call it the Grand Mosque from culturally appropriate illumination scheme. external lighting concept to the lunar cycle,
now on) in Abu Dhabi. I was in a taxi travel- Consequently they approached award-win- the lunar cycle being what sets the Islamic
ling from the airport to the city centre ning architectural lighting firm Speirs and calendar,” Bradshaw continues. “We used
when the huge structure came into view. I Major Associates (SaMA) in 2004 to create the moon cycle as an inspiration to connect
was rather embarrassed having asked the lighting designs for the interior and exterior the building to the sky so that the building
taxi driver if one of the rather more modest – two related concepts. reflected the activity of the moon. In a full
mosques we had aleady passed was that of But it is at night that the mosque really moon the building has a grey, white light
the grand variety. “You will know when you comes alive. The building’s evening pres- similar to the feeble light we perceive on
see it,” the driver told me. How right he ence was very important to the client and earth from the moon. Each day as the moon
was. And this was during the day! A major in keeping with the significance of the waxes and wanes from the full moon the
national religious building, it was built for project more than a simple floodlighting building becomes darker and bluer so that
the people of Abu Dhabi as a monument solution was sought. at the point of the new moon the building
to their beloved ruler and principal United “The original approved concept was defined is in its deepest blue state. In addition we
Arab Emirates architect, Sheikh Zayed, as the Paths of the Star. The idea was to used the enigmatic vision of clouds moving
who passed away before the building was track the orbits of stars in the night sky across the moon to provide another layered
completed. across the building. The result was a series effect onto the building, enforcing this idea
The Grand Mosque is exceptional and of overlapped and interconnecting point of the building as a reflection of the moon.”
imposing in every respect. Clad in marble source arcs that would appear to connect Interestingly, in mid-2005 SaMA brought in
and gold mosaic with each of four minarets together from certain view points,” SaMA two companies much more versed in the
rising to a height of 107 metres, with an Director Keith Bradshaw explains. “The art of entertainment lighting to create the
80 metre tall main dome, the more than design reached detail stage and coordi- effect - Martin Professional and ETC.
22,000 sqm building is the third largest nates were plotted in 3d for the building. The installation comprises more than 400
mosque in the world and already one of the The client then became concerned that Martin Exterior 1200 Image Projectors,
world’s landmark religious structures, ac- the building would not be properly defined nearly 500 Exterior 200 luminaires, 248
commodating over 30,000 worshippers. and immediately recognisable from such Inground 200 uplights and 56 Exterior 600
Monumental in stature and awe-inspiring to cerebral lighting design. They then asked us luminaires. The IP65 and IP67 rated fixtures
behold, the client, Abu Dhabi’s Department to develop the design to a slightly adjusted operate in an environment where summer
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