Korea can boast a new superlative: the Galleria
Centercity shopping mall in Cheonan. This
huge building is visible from afar as one reaches
the end of the journey to Cheonan, located 80km from Seoul. It is not just the grand scale of
this ‘consumer temple’ that is breathtaking –
the vast 12,600m² media facade is also huge.

Dynamic light shows produced by more than
22,000 LED lighting points wrap the structure
in a shimmering skin that stands out impressively
against its urban setting. The high-power
LED spotlights specially developed by luminaire
manufacturer Zumtobel are designed to merge
almost imperceptibly into the facade. Thanks
to them, the coloured lighting sequences that
ripple across the surface of the building –
sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly – exert
an even greater fascination on visitors to the

Zumtobel created this unique lighting installation
in cooperation with renowned Bonn
lighting design firm ag Licht and the prestigious
Amsterdam architecture firm UNStudio.

In the words of Wilfried Kramb, ag Licht’s project
manager: “Our objective in setting the facade
centre-stage was to illuminate this huge
surface area in a manner that ensures that the
overall impression of the building at night is in
keeping with the impression it makes during the
day. We wanted our lighting design to reflect
the multi-layered nature of the facade and the
interplay with overlapping sections. Ultimately,
this is how the basic idea of projecting light from
the facade sections onto the inner skin of the
building came about. For us, the project posed
the exciting challenge of developing an innovative
idea capable of inspiring all those involved,
bearing in mind the existing constraints.”

This project marks another stage in Zumtobel’s
successful entry into facade lighting. Of all the
facade lighting solutions that Zumtobel has
completed, Galleria Centercity is the biggest
project so far. It represents a real milestone on
the road to integrated media facade lighting.

“In Asia, people don’t just visit shopping malls
in order to consume. In the Far East, shopping
malls like Galleria Centercity are also a place
for social interaction,” says Ben van Berkel, the
architect in charge of the shopping mall and
UNStudio’s director. This is why, when designing
the building, the Amsterdam architecture
firm took pains to ensure it was very user friendly.
The shopping mall offers much more than
merely opportunities to shop; it even provides
various cultural meeting places.

“Shaping the shopping mall as a living space required,
externally as well as internally, a unique,
creative design force capable of attracting visitors,
inviting them to linger and motivating them
to return,” adds Ben van Berkel.

The media facade turns this idea into reality perfectly: gently washing
soft colour transitions and light sequences
moving like waves bring a fascinating sense
of movement to sweeping areas of the building.
Computer-based animations developed by UNStudio
were also integrated into the lighting design.
The installed DMX control system ensures
individual programming of individual LED spots
and paints animations on the surface of the
building accurately in every detail. All the LED
spotlights interact to produce dynamic images
and messages that come alive on the facade.

Smooth-flowing transitions between individual
sequences of images and colours provide magical,
eye-catching features. Despite the fact
that these sequences are preset and specially
adapted to suit the architecture, no two images
seem alike, onlookers are beguiled as a lighting
composition with a seemingly unending score
is played before their eyes. During the day the
cube-like building presents its reflective, ambiguous
architecture with a dash of mysticism but
at night it transforms into a shimmering, infinitely
mutable urban beacon.

The architects developed a special structure for
the facade consisting of double asymmetrically
overlaid and vertically arranged aluminium sections
that create a moiré effect. The inner layer
of lamellas consists of an aluminium panel. For
the outer layer, the architects designed custom-built
triangular sections fitted with toughened
glass. This detail is particularly important when it
comes to lighting effects because the RGB LED
spotlights specially developed by Zumtobel are
fully integrated into these sections on the outer
facade. From there, light is ultimately projected
onto the inner facade layer and reflected onto
the surface of the building. This indirect, absolutely
glare-free light makes it possible to convert
the tightly focused LED lighting points into largearea
picture elements or pixels.

Zumtobel used
a total of three different types of pixels that differ
in terms of their various optics and resulting
lighting effects: High-resolution 400mm x 400mm
pixels are used in the corners of the building, in
places where straight surfaces blend into a corner,
medium-resolution pixels are used. Low-resolution
800mm x 800mm pixels are perfect for the
expansive dimensions of the building’s straight
surfaces. 12,399 of the 22,000 luminaires used
are 3.6W RGB luminaires, while the remaining
units (approximately 10,000) are 1.2W white luminaires.
This wide-area indirect pixel concept
guarantees extremely high efficiency in relation
to the surface area to be illuminated as well as
harmonious luminance levels.

Galleria Centercity is a striking example of how
facades can become interactive elements of the
urban landscape and the way in which urban
spaces can be shaped by light – without this
indirect, glare-free light causing any nuisance in
adjacent areas of the town.