Situated a couple of hours drive south of Auckland, on the North Island of New Zealand, the coastal city of Tauranga is both a bustling summer haven and home to one of New Zealand’s largest ports. Recently it also became the recipient of one of New Zealand’s most striking LED catenary lighting systems by Ronstan Tensile Architecture.
After successfully trialing a portion of Wharf Street as a shared space, Tauranga City Council recognized the opportunity to invigorate the precinct as a space to bring people together and to create an improved connection between the coastline and the city centre at the same time. Resembling clouds moving from the city to the ocean, the catenary lighting system invites a connection between land and sea in recognition of the city’s historical relationship with the wharf and the harbour’s edge.
The Ronstan Team played a pivotal role in realizing the lighting concept of the City and their design stakeholders. As lighting concepts were proposed and developed Ronstan engineers appraised and evaluated the structural implications of each iteration under wind and other load cases to carefully balance the cable loads and keep pole dimensions to a sensible and economical size. Structural support to the intricate cable net is provided by a system of Ronstan ACS2 cables, engineered for optimal performance and tensioned between the poles and edge cables surrounding the perimeter of the catenary. The integrity of the cable to cable connections in the net is ensured by the use of carefully designed cable clamps which minimize any eccentric loads on the cables at the connections limiting fatigue and ensuring the cable net will support the luminaires in all weather for the design life of the structure.
The poles themselves are works of art; curved aluminium feature-panels, with intricately carved holes. After dark, these panels are back-lit with programmable Carl Stahl LEDs to provide a striking entrance to the space. As well as being beautiful, the corner poles are also highly functional. All power and control to the lighting system is provided from the corner poles only. One of the design challenges involved housing the necessary equipment in a way that was not visually intrusive, but still provided user-friendly access for repairs and maintenance. Ronstan’sunique solution positioned the control enclosures on a specially designed track system to allow them to extend above the top of the pole for access, and then retract back into the pole, out of sight.
Lighting is provided by a combination of Carl Stahl X-LED strings and feature glass orbs lit by Hunza luminaires. Each light is features RGBW LEDs, and are individually controllable, allowing for almost limitless colours and sequences. Ronstan was responsible for the installation and programming of the entire lighting system as well as the structural design of the complete catenary system.
Success lies in the details. Responsible engineering and Ronstan’s attention to detail helped realize the vision of the City and its designers.
All Photos © Mark Scowen