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The Ancient Theatre of Taormina

The lighting design for the ancient theatre of Taormina was commissioned by the Department of  Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity in order to extend visiting hours at the site into the evening. Operating in collaboration with the Energy Service Company Metaenergia (ESCo), with whom an agreement was signed for the provision of electrical energy and services from 2013 to 2017, this Department opted to use iGuzzini technology for the new project. ESCo also immediately recognised iGuzzini's immense expertise in the lighting sector and its skill in using light to both protect and enhance cultural heritage.

This particular project has two general aims: on one hand it seeks to use light to enhance the site's splendid classical architecture, while on the other, it allows visitors to access the theatre in perfect safety even at night. The increase in revenue created, thanks to a rise in visits, together with lower management costs also mean that the archaeological site can enjoy simple, programmed maintenance while simultaneously bringing other benefits to the area.

The project designed by Engineer Roberto Sannasardo from the Department of  Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity involved updating the existing lighting system (installed in 1999 by the French studio Roland Jeol) with new technological solutions that were not available at the time.  Non-invasive design solutions were specifically requested in the commission, so compact and hidden luminaires were chosen, and wherever possible, the existing installation system was used to avoid attaching more brackets to the ancient walls.  The overall aim was to create a lighting system that would have a realistic effect and succeed in reproducing the subtle colours of dusk. This is why warm colour temperatures (2900-3000 K) were chosen that create a picturesque image of the theatre. At the same time, using products with high colour rendering  (a CRI of 90) ensures that the site's natural materials are properly saturated with the required range of colour. Moreover, replacing all the existing lighting units with new DALI LED elements has resulted in an 80% reduction in consumption and consequently lower management costs. To ensure that the site can be visited in perfect safety at night, the exit routes have been lit with linear lighting created by Underscore InOut luminaires recessed in the handrails and diffused lighting produced by Woody series floodlights . The theatre entrance is also lit by Woody luminaires that anticipate the line of floodlights used in the arena. The designer chose the Woody series because of its high level of visual comfort and wide variety of installation systems and uses, which range from highlighting details to landscaping. From the site's viewing platform, a rhythmic procession of pole-mounted iTeka luminaires introduces the visitor to this remarkable example of classical architecture with directional lighting  created by optics with OptiSmart reflectors that optimizes both visual comfort and the spacing of the luminaires. Woody downlights illuminate both the vaulted portico and the open portico, emphasizing the structure of the steps. From there, Underscore InOut Side Bend luminaires installed in the handrail guide the visitor towards the orchestra with an even and continuous line of light that produces no shadow areas whatsoever. In this way light becomes a kind of geometrical sign that indicates the way ahead. Underscore InOut luminaires are incredibly reliable and perfectly suited  to the site's climate, so constant, long-lasting, high performance is guaranteed. Continuing up to the orchestra, the cavea (auditorium) and paraskenia  (side wings) are lit with wide beam Maxiwoody luminaires, whereas Woody luminaires guide visitors along the parodoi (stage side entrances) towards the skene (backstage) where Miniwoody luminaires light up the proskenion (area in front of the skene) and Maxiwoody floodlights the skene.

This new lighting system, officially unveiled at a press conference and opening event on June 28th, illuminates the splendid architecture and natural beauty of this archaeological site perfectly while also strictly complying with all the relevant safety standards.

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  • Year
  • Client
    Department of Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity Metaenergia E.S.Co.
  • Lighting project:
    Roberto Sannasardo
  • Photographer
    Gianluca Scalia & Mario Tordini

Project Quote

"The fact that architecture and light are inseparably bound is well known. This is why this project, in addition to satisfying lighting and energy requirements, also boasts the added value of accurately highlighting architectural and archaeological features, like the ruins surrounding the summa cavea (upper auditorium). These are perceived as significant parts of the site, and enrich the visitor's experience both educationally and emotionally."

Architect Vera Greco, Head of the Naxos Archaeological Park.

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