Evolution Tower, the skyscraper designed by Tony Kettel and Karen Forbes, became a landmark in Moscow’s new urban skyscape throughout its construction between 2011 and 2014, the year in which it was completed. Since 2016, when it was bought by Transneft, the building has been the headquarters of the largest state-owned oil pipeline company in the world. The tower is 255 metres and 55 floors high and is now the largest and most efficient office building in Russia. It is lit entirely by LEDs and boasts one of the most sophisticated management and control systems on the planet.
For iGuzzini, the Evolution Tower was a highly complex project that it completed successfully thanks to its knowhow and by providing a global solution: dynamic lighting for both the exteriors and the indoor offices. The spiral structure of the building also required the design and construction of specific solutions that were perfected with the lighting designer.
The tower’s most distinctive feature is its media façade, which is said to be the largest in Asia. According to Nikolay Tokarev, the Transneft President, it is a symbol of the new Russia and can deservedly stand alongside icons of Russia’s glorious past, like Saint Basil’s Cathedral.
The height of the tower, its architectural structure, the materials chosen for the façade and the fact that the construction had already been finished, all set significant limits. Given the twisting and tilting of the glass surfaces, products could only be installed externally using mountain climbing techniques, and there were very few points they could be attached to. Moreover, the luminaires would have been exposed to extreme temperature changes, as the temperature in Moscow varies from – 40 °C in the winter to 40 °C in the summer.
For all these reasons, a solution was developed that installed the luminaires on the inside of the façade. The designers wanted to create a screen effect on the outside of the building with a series of RGBW “dots” that could be controlled individually and allow colour and light intensity to be changed in order to create different effects, including the Transneft logo.
A decision was therefore made to light the façade from the inside using an indoor product that would significantly reduce installation costs and difficulties as well as maintenance expenditure. From a formal point of view, the product was designed so it could be attached to the uprights used for the roller blinds. This allowed it to blend in perfectly with the aluminium components of the façade as well as facilitating installation thanks to pass-through wiring. The final effect is that of a luminaire with remarkable lighting and management performance that merges in perfectly with the architecture, even if it is was not created when the structure was originally built.
From the point of view of lighting, first and foremost, the luminaire had to be capable of developing a level of intensity that would allow its visual effect to be seen from a considerable distance. It also had to offer the widest range of colours possible, evenly and without revealing the individual LEDs, as well as observing the overall power limits required to light the façade.
The solution was a cylindrical luminaire with a consumption of 15 W, fitted with an RGBW LED circuit and a DMX RCM driver. About 3600 “dots” were positioned over the entire façade, thanks to a grid that becomes narrower between the 40th and 47th floor to display the company logo. The luminaires are installed on the interior surface of the façade’s multiple, insulated glass panels.
In terms of management, the “dots” interact with the control system, not supplied by iGuzzini, that is used for the building automation of the entire structure. Each “dot” is connected to both power and control cables. The DMX – RDM driver used for colour change management is compatible with the existing control system and offered significant advantages in terms of programming and management, as each luminaire, for example, had an auto-addressing function that avoided manually addressing 3,600 “dots” which would have taken a very long time indeed.
Once again, with regard to the global solution, the same lighting effect was guaranteed in the building’s technical areas by using luminaires with a higher protection level (IP65 rating). This ensures they can resist the water released if the fire prevention sprinkler system installed in these areas is activated.
Architectural project: Tony Kettle, Karen Forbes, Philipp Nikandrov, RMJM
Lighting project: Skira Architectural Lighting – Dean Skira
General contractor: Velesstroy
Interior architects: IQ, Elforma
Photographer: Ivan Smelov
Article and video courtesy of iGuzzini