New Lighting for St. Clemens

Lighting design for a (double) church from 2 eras

Place: Drolshagen

Category: Temples & Churches

The Romanesque church of St. Clemens in Drolshagen probably dates back to the 10th or 11th century. It was expanded in the 13th century and then in the 1960s a modern extension was added. From the outside, the church made of plastered quarry stone appears simply as a unit, but inside you experience two churches with an independent appearance. Exactly these special features of two fundamentally different parts of the church in one building were also characteristic of the lighting concept, which was implemented by KOBER LICHTPLANER as part of the overall renovation of the St. Clemens Basilica between 2016 and 2022.

The lighting concept for the "old church"
The three-nave, five-bay pillar basilica with a cross vault in the central nave has been carefully restored while retaining the original character. The aim of the new lighting was for the luminaires to be integrated into the architecture as unobtrusively as possible and for the light sources to be as invisible as possible or shielded to a high degree. The lighting concept is based throughout on the same warm-toned 3,000-degree Kelvin LED with only 1.5 SDCM, very high color rendering and particularly natural-looking light, as this is located directly on Planck's curve and is therefore the ideal image of a classic thermal radiator in this historical environment very close. Discreet brackets were developed for the general lighting, which accommodate both the uplights (spotlights with different light distribution lenses) for the even illumination of the vault and the downlights for the basic lighting. All lights can be switched or dimmed separately. The vaults of the side aisles were also evenly illuminated, so that the church can be experienced as a whole for the first time and has visually expanded significantly vertically and horizontally compared to before. The high CRI value of more than 92 of the selected LEDs ensures a natural color rendering of the natural stone materials and paintings. The altar area forms the center of the church and, with its accent lighting, has the highest levels of illuminance, drawing attention to itself. The accent lighting itself is executed with multiple layers of spotlights with light distributions ranging from narrow spot to flood to create visual vibrancy and create plasticity through the interplay of light and shadow. Particular attention was paid to the lighting of the wall-integrated cloister representations in the aisles: spotlights with edge-sharp frame projector optics accentuate the individual motifs, which stand out vividly and intensely in color from the relatively dark walls of the aisles.

The lighting concept for the "new church"
The part of the church from the 1960s still looks modern by today's standards, functional, daylight-emphasizing and spacious and thus already clearly distinguishes itself architecturally from the "old church". The basis of the lighting for this part of the church was therefore a concept based on 3 basic elements: First, an LED, which provides a cooler and more objective light with 3,500 degrees Kelvin. Supplemented by illuminance levels, which are significantly higher than in the "old church" at approx. 300 lux and finally wallwashing of the rounded altar area as a central eye-catcher. Together with the architects, a ceiling-suspended support structure made of anodized aluminum was developed, which is shaped in a "U" (total length approx. 70m) in the middle area and absorbs the rounded architectural shape on the altar side. Individual strands of the same support structure are designed above the aisles to accommodate the lights, each 25m long. Overall, the suspended structure gives the high nave visual support upwards. For this purpose, it was deliberately designed with solid materiality, but appears almost free-floating due to the filigree suspension with very large spans. The basic lighting of the church is provided by narrow-beam gimballed recessed ceiling spotlights with lens technology from the supporting structure. The two figurines of saints to the left and right of the altar are accentuated with even narrower light cones and emphasized with a significantly higher illuminance compared to the general lighting. The visual focus of the entire lighting is the very even wallwashing of the choir room. Since people's visual perception is much more pronounced on vertical surfaces than on horizontal surfaces, wallwashing in the sense of perception-oriented lighting is ideal - especially if, as in this case, large-format art is also to be presented. The focus here is the altarpiece by the artist Thomas Jessen, which has been much discussed in national and international media. The painted triptych depicting Our Lady in jeans on a household ladder, offering her girdle to Thomas the Apostle as evidence of her Ascension, according to ancient legend, is unconventional and modern, accentuated by the slightly cooler wallwashing.

The lighting of both churches can be adapted very flexibly using a lighting control system. Specific light scenes were created for the different uses in the church weekly and annual calendar in order to dramaturgically underline the respective mood with the light.

Photos copyright: KOBER LICHTPLANER GmbH