Revealing lighting

Mexico is a country with a huge artistic, cultural, and historic heritage. A very special place within its priceless collection of architectural masterpieces is reserved to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City, the largest Catholic church in Latin America. Unveiled in all its splendor by a dedicated LED lighting system, the cathedral is now showing its true essence thanks to a superb white light illumination.

The Government of Mexico City in cooperation with the National Institute of Anthropology and History worked along with the appointed lighting design studio LALICKI Consultorìa teatral+Diseño y Iluminación to conceive a lighting scheme that could enhance the façades of the Metropolitan Cathedral complying with the strict regulations related to the illumination of historical monuments in Mexico. A low energy consumption LED lighting system was needed to deliver a uniform wall wash effect to the cathedral, which could reveal the beauty of its architectural features in a natural, harmonious way.

Delivering an amazing visual impact, the Cathedral of Mexico City (whose extended name is Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven) is a huge building, over 124 m long and 60 m wide, with bell towers reaching up to 65 m. Its construction spanned a period of over 250 years, from 1573 to 1813, and involved many architects, sculptors, painters, and architectural styles. In spite of some traces of Gothic and Neoclassic, the Cathedral is an icon of Mexican baroque, with influences of Plateresque and Churrigueresque. Eclectic modifications of Gothic spatial concepts, both these styles are characterized by elaborate and extravagant decorations, typical of the baroque architecture developed in Spain and its Latin-American colonies in the 18th century. Mainly built in a typical Mexican stone, "el tezontle”, the cathedral appears in a quite uniform light grey color whose continuity is interrupted only by imposing wooden entrance gates, marble white bas-reliefs, and by three sculptures representing Faith, Hope, and Charity.
Metropolitan Cathedral
Mexico City, Mexico
Lighting design
Aleksandar Lalicki Posavec - LALICKI Consultorìa teatral+Diseño y Iluminación
Grupo Tares (South façade); Z&A Servicios(East façade)
Photos: Marie Ferrer

The cathedral was previously lit up in a dark yellow light by a combination of metal halide lamps that were not capable of revealing the artistic value of this monumental architecture at night. Aleksandar Lalicki, lead consultant and lighting designer, won the two separate bids for the lighting project of the south and east façades of the building. The lighting designer had to overcome many infrastructural, historical and technical obstacles before choosing the best lighting and control solutions for this national treasure.

Divided in different stages, the lighting design of Lalicki was developed with maximum respect for one of the oldest and most prestigious historic building in the country. In order to avoid any optical distortion of the architectural features through an excessive light exposition, an array of LED luminaires were installed on 15m and 9m high poles located at a predetermined distance from the Cathedral. The luminaires were mounted in pairs, two per level, each one covering a specific area of the building that had been carefully defined during the project phase according to dedicated computer models. With only 27kW of electrical power, Lalicki managed to illuminate the cathedral with levels of around 200 lux for the main details and an average of 100 lux for the general façade.

A homogeneous white light bath, enlivened by some soft, refined accents in different white shades on the most emblematic architectural elements, is now delivered by 100 units of Coral DW with different optics on the South façade, and 47 on the Eastern one. With an adjustable color temperature range between 2700K and 6500K, this tunable white configuration allows the creation of an amazing visual rendering of warm tones, natural hues and cool shades, offering the absolute freedom within the white light chromatic scale the lighting designer was looking for to enhance details, texture, and perspectives of this beautiful church.

On the other side, an array of Coral in RGBW configuration (14 for the main façade and 8 for the side one) grants a switch to every desired color whenever needed. On special festivities or religious events, the cathedral can take on different color shades through the selection of preprogrammed scenes. All the installed fittings can be managed via DMX512 control systems, and the programming of different scenes can be activated by remote control units located in a dedicated control room within the church.

With this fascinating, respectful lighting, the designer wanted to open the visitors' eyes revealing the beauty of the reliefs, the emblematic statues, the texture of the Mexican stones, and all the little architectural details which together form a masterpiece. The Cathedral has been transformed into an iconic image of Mexico City also by night, impressively standing out in the main square of Mexico City, el Zócalo, with its gothic allure.

Installed products:
147 x Coral DW, with different optics: 8° Spot, 12° Narrow, 23° Medium, 43° Wide, 68° Extra wide, 11°x41° Elliptical, 22x39° Elliptical wide
22 x Coral RGBW with different optics: 43° Wide, 68° Extra Wide, 11°x41° Elliptical, 22°x39° Elliptical wide

Lighting Design: Aleksandar Lalicki Posavec
Installation: Grupo Tares (South façade); Z&A Servicios(East façade)
Photos: Marie Ferrer
427 Hyatt Street
Gaffney, SC 29341
Phone: (864) 487-3535