Antwerp Central station, inaugurated in 1905, is an architectural jewel. This heritage building, influenced by the Belgian art nouveau movement, is considered to be one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. Known as the Railway Cathedral, its majestic hall is topped by a 75m high dome and a 44m high arched glass roof covers the tracks, a real feat of engineering for its time.
In 2012, the city commissioned Studiebureau Stramien/Antico to draw up a lighting plan that would provide the vision for its public lighting and make the city’s nightscape safe, welcoming and sustainable.
Illuminate buildings to enhance the city's identity
Lighting the city’s monuments plays an important role in its lighting plan. The city of Antwerp is a firm believer that highlighting emblematic buildings with architectural lighting creates an atmosphere and strengthens the identity of the city.
A few years ago, the council successfully upgraded the lighting for the City Hall and the Cathedral of Our Lady in the city centre. In 2020, it decided to re-illuminate Central Station as the existing floodlights were no longer working properly and were using a lot of energy. As the station is a major hub for both national and international trains, it is an important gateway to the city. As it is often the first impression that visitors have when they arrive, the goal was to enhance its sheer beauty and historical significance to welcome visitors in a magical atmosphere that would encourage them to explore more of the city.
Revealing the beauty of its heritage at night
A tender was launched to find an architectural lighting design that would restore the building to its former night-time glory in accordance with the city’s lighting plan. Susanna Antico Lighting Design Studio was appointed with a lighting concept that creates a truly distinct nightscape for Antwerp Central Station and its surrounding neighbourhoods.
The station is a place where different types of people pass through. On the lower level, the emphasis is on visibility and passenger safety.
The façades, on the other hand, are bathed in a soft light, to create a warm nocturnal ambiance. Special accent lighting enhances the architectural details and adds a sense of form and depth while the roof, turrets and domes are emphasised to create a visually striking image at night. This new architectural lighting concept puts this historic building back in its rightful place in Antwerp’s urban landscape, offering breathtaking views from Keyserlei, Place Reine Astrid and Rue Pelikaan.
Smart architectural lighting, a winning combination for saving energy
Schréder was selected to supply more than 360 energy-efficient LED floodlights to bring this vision to life.
As Antwerp Central Station is a listed monument, there were a number of constraints to integrate the floodlights into the façade fabric. The floodlights had to be discreet to not hamper the daytime view of the building. The SCULPLINE linear floodlight, with its slim profile, was ideal. It harmoniously integrates the façades, sculpting the light to exactly where it is needed with its symmetric and asymmetric lighting distributions. The floodlights are fitted with white LEDs that can be dynamically controlled using the DMX protocol.
Thanks to the control system, the lighting operator Fluvius, can easily manage the installation and programme different scenarios to adapt the lighting levels throughout the night. By controlling the light levels, the city will achieve even more energy savings, in addition to those generated by upgrading the HID fixtures to LED technology.
Compact SCULPDOT floodlights were installed near the turrets to magnificently showcase this masterpiece of craftsmanship. Easy to install and with precise on-site adjustment, they emphasise the intricate architectural details.
Sustainable lighting for many years to come
When choosing the floodlights, the city was very attentive to the reliability of the equipment and the availability of spare parts, to ensure that the architectural lighting will stay in place for many years to come. The robust materials and high ingress protection of the SCULP range ensure that the photometric and mechanical performance will last for many years, meeting the city’s requirements.
A strong collaboration between the various partners involved was a key element in the success of this project. From the design phase through to installation, everyone worked together to strike a balance between the discreet integration of the floodlights and the desired visual effect.
The new lighting for this emblematic landmark is popular with both residents and visitors alike.
We've noticed that people who come to see the lighting are surprised to see how many of the details become visible at night, when they weren't during the day.