Last week, we saw how some of the planet’s most distinctive cities are choosing to keep their identity shining brightly by replacing the light sources in existing fittings to keep their character while saving energy. While that’s great for sustainability, unfortunately time takes its toll and sometimes replacing an entire lighting system is a better choice.
When we partner with a city, we undertake a full analysis and create a system to reduce their energy footprint, achieve environmental goals and create safe, welcoming spaces for citizens. And when that indicates that new light fittings are the best option, we support cities in their choice, whether that’s creating something bold, new and striking - or lovingly reconstructing obsolete luminaires.
Old fixtures may no longer have the necessary tightness levels to operate properly, or it might be impossible to replace the photometric or electronic units. But all is not lost - in our Kandelabra business unit just outside Budapest, Schréder’s team of experts are accurately re-creating heritage lighting assets for cities that take pride in their antique elegance.
One area where a total refit is required is for cities looking to replace gas lighting. Still used in cities like Berlin and Boston, people love the distinctive warm light. New LED technology mimics the tone perfectly, while Kandelàber have developed a way to make replacement lights indistinguishable, right down to the sock-shape fitting inside.
In Bruges, we’re working with partners to replace 2,700 lanterns in the old town over coming years. The new system will cut energy use by 60%, reduce carbon emissions and save the city money. Crucially, in this city where every corner is a perfect selfie location, the distinctive dark green lanterns preserve the “look and feel” of the historic centre.
A well-lit trip down memory lane
The reason why a global company ended up overseeing a production unit, complete with hammers, anvils and fullers, is complicated, but worth recounting. Back in the 1980s, one of Hungary’s most popular TV shows reported that Budapest’s picturesque light fittings were seriously outdated, and at risk of being removed altogether.
After watching the report, Zoltan Wlassits took the initiative. Together with volunteers from Kelenföld power plant, Mr Wlassits restored dozens of candelabras identified on the TV programme - as a courtesy to Budapest. They’re still functioning, and the volunteers were honoured for their services to the city. But then something highly unexpected happened: Mr Wlassits started a company, a bold move given the political atmosphere.
Based in the city’s castle district - an area now thronged with tourists - they worked on high-profile projects restoring Budapest’s lighting to its former glory. They even built a special relationship across the Iron Curtain, with Schréder.
The Belgian company had developed a range of sophisticated reflectors which enabled them to put the right light in the right place at the right time, while Kandelàber forged elaborate creations which would have impressed Empress Sissi. They worked together unofficially refreshing the candelabras on Andrassy Ut, the avenue leading up to Heroes Square, putting modern optical reflectors inside.
Marcel Schréder set out to buy the company and the first joint venture company in the country was eventually created in 1998. The rest is history - or, to be more precise, helping cities preserve their history.
About the writer
Intrigued by lighting, Laszlo joined the Schréder company over 30 years and quickly developed a real passion for helping towns and cities to preserve their heritage lanterns.
His rich experience makes him an invaluable asset - he can rebuild, re-engineer and recreate products that are as good and authentic as the original and comply with lighting standards.