Spotlight on architectural lighting

Whether natural sunlight or artificial illumination, light enhances the details of a space or scene by drawing attention to textures, colors, and forms. In architecture, lighting play important decorative and functional purposes. José Daniel Arrondo, project manager and design engineer for EUROFIBROPTIC, works at the interface between buildings and light.

Whether natural sunlight or artificial illumination, light enhances the details of a space or scene by drawing attention to textures, colors, and forms. In architecture, lighting play important decorative and functional purposes. José Daniel Arrondo, project manager and design engineer for EUROFIBROPTIC, works at the interface between buildings and light.

The Spanish company provides lighting solutions based on LEDs and optical fiber. Originally founded in 1980 by Arrondo’s father, the small family business has been working with SCHOTT for more than 30 years. SCHOTT supplies glass fiber cables that the company processes and installs in architectural and decorative projects in Spain, France, Portugal, and Italy.

Lavish hotel lighting

EUROFIBROPTIC collaborates very closely with architects. The company, together with artist and architect Ben Jakober and engineer Jos Tomlow, has planned and implemented the lighting in exclusive hotels that include the Hotel La Florida and Miramar Hotel in Barcelona and the Peninsula Hotel in Tokyo. In the Hotel La Florida, EUROFIBROPTIC installed a luxurious lamp that is 15 meters high and spans several floors.

“Thanks to these great projects, we don’t have to advertise anymore. Architects come find us,” Arrondo says. Nevertheless, he often has to explain the material he works with. “Many people don’t know much about fiber optics. They think it is only used in telecommunications — not for lighting.”

To Arrondo, the advantages of glass optical fibers are clear. “Think of a swimming pool for example. A colored illumination accentuates the water in a nice way,” he says. “But standard lighting carries electrical risks and can be difficult to maintain.”

Glass fibers transmit only light — no electricity — which makes them perfect for projects involving water. The optical fibers bring light into the water while the light source is kept outside the pool, allowing easy maintenance. In terms of aesthetics, fibers bring a subtle and elegant integration of light into the pool.

Illuminating and protecting

Arrondo likes developing lighting concepts for museums best because light there is almost as important as on a theatre stage: instead of actors, exhibits are perfectly staged. To him, glass fibers are perfectly suited for this purpose. Thanks to the small angle at which light exits an optical fiber, display items can be illuminated with pinpoint accuracy.

Some exhibits must be stored and displayed under special environmental conditions. Touch, carbon dioxide, dust, light, moisture, and heat can all damage valuable old or sensitive objects. Here, the fact that glass fibers do not conduct heat or electricity makes them a safer light choice. By placing the lamp outside the showcase, it never needs to be opened.

Beautifully lit: the tasting room of the Winemaker Bodegas Cune in Haro La Rioja, Spain. Photos: EUROFIBROPTIC.

One big project Arrondo likes to think back on is the renovation of the tasting room of the famous Winemaker Bodegas Cune in Haro La Rioja. “This was a bit of a challenge, as wine is very sensitive to temperature changes,” he remembers.

Bulbs represent a source of heat, which would be especially problematic for this project because the architect used a great deal of metal in the wine shelves. Glass fibers were the ideal solution.

“Glass fiber kept the hot light source away from the wine and allowed very mild lighting that was less aggressive than direct LEDs,” Arrondo says. EUROFIBROPTIC installed one fiber end in front of each bottle to create the impressive illusion that there was a small light in each bottle.

It was again apparent how little other people know about glass optical fibers. Although it was supposed to be only a consulting project, some installers were afraid to touch the material, so EUROFIBROPTIC ended up doing the installation as well. “Many people think that glass fibers break easily,” says Arrondo. “But they are very flexible.”

To spread the knowledge about glass optical fibers, Arrondo gives a lecture at the Elisava design university in Barcelona once a year. He himself studied there too. He hopes that future generations will appreciate glass as a versatile material as much as he does.

Nora Cremille

August 28, 2020

Contact

Brigitte Sterf
Lighting & Imaging
SCHOTT North America, Inc.

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