Effect lighting creates a moonlit sky: Lighting Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque

Lighting up mosques: A look at some lighting case studies for mosques to include Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi and Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Posted in Light + Multimedia

The lighting of religious buildings is a particular art and a lot of time and research goes into creating the best lighting design to complement what are often magnificent architectural structures. Mosques tend to adopt special symbolic importance to light. Before electricity, they were illuminated is soft light from oil lamps which created a glittering spectacle.  


Today these great structures are a juxtaposition between traditional architecture and cutting edge technology. The Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque (Grand Mosque) in Abu Dhabi is one such architectural marvel, emitting light that glows with a natural luminance. Here we take a look at the luminaires and lighting design behind this immense project.  


The Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi
One of the largest mosques in the world, the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi was completed in 2007. Lighting designers from UK consultancy Speirs + Major were the masterminds behind its interior and exterior lighting design, the same company that was behind the lighting installations for Burj Khalifa, the world’s largest tower. 

The 360 degree lighting scheme is designed to connect visitors to the lunar cycle. The mosque is bathed in cool white light at full moon, then shifts colour throughout the moon’s cycle, growing gradually bluer as the moon gets smaller. With the clever use of effect lighting, the building takes on the characteristics of the moon with shadows of clouds and variations of light intensity sweeping across the mosque’s façade giving the illusion of clouds sweeping across the moonlit sky.   

For Speirs + Major, the mosque’s lighting design needed to tell a story that spoke about dignity and respect, and had a reference to the functionality of the building. 

The technology
Speirs + Major partnered with Prolight + Sound Middle East exhibitor Martin Professional to provide the required technology to bring their lighting concept for the religious icon to life. There are 1213 Martin Professional colour-changing luminaires illuminating the intricate architecture with varying levels of complexity and sophistication. 

For Speirs + Major they were looking for a lighting installation for the project that had certain features such as brightness, colour, a subtle animation wheel, reliability and a reporting system. The colour was important for achieving the white light condition and for its ability to shift through the range of blue colour tones that were a central component of the lighting design concept. Speirs + Major worked closely with Martin Professional on refining a product that would deliver the effect lighting for these requirements and the Martin 1200 profile projector was developed. 


At the Grand Mosque the Martin 1200 profile projector provides the effect lighting for the long throws onto the domes and the minarets and onto the façades around the big open courtyard. It is the luminaire that has the ability to do the textual flow movements mimicking the movement of the cloud ripples, streaming in a west to east direction from Mecca. 


The exterior 200s have been used in various positions around the exterior of the mosque to light close into some of the domes giving them the illusion of a base to sit on. They were quite important in the project as they serve to ground some of the architecture. 


The entire lighting installation comprises more than 400 Martin Exterior 1200 Image Projectors, nearly 500 Exterior 200 luminaires, 248 Inground 200 uplights and 56 Exterior 600 luminaires. It is run off a Remote Device Management system which reduces the need for maintenance and repairs resulting in substantial savings in time and costs.


Visit Martin Professional at Prolight + Sound Middle East to explore their products and solutions.


Register to visit Prolight Sound Middle East 2018