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Using ETFE and light to create a colorful facade, can you name this venue?

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Lighting makes a splash at Budapest's new Danube Arena

Tight deadlines and an exacting brief prompted local lighting designer Be Light! to turn to Thorn and Zumtobel for lighting solutions for the latest addition to Budapest’s cityscape.


The Danube Arena, a state-of-the-art watersports venue on the banks of the River Danube, features two full-size swimming pools, a diving pool and a training pool, and can host up to 15,000 spectators. It had to be completed in just two years after the location for the 2017 FINA World Aquatics Championship unexpectedly changed from Mexico to Hungary.

To meet the high standards required for the project – especially the demands of HDTV broadcasting – Be Light! decided that the lighting system needed to be LED. The arena is believed to be the first sports venue in Hungary to be lit predominantly with LED.

Zoltan Morvai, CEO of Be Light!, said, “A lighting system had to be designed and implemented which both met the requirements of the world-class event and, post- event, performed economically in everyday life.”

The main pools are illuminated with 280 of Thorn’s Altis LED floodlights, while the training pool uses 200 Craft high bays LED from Zumtobel. The entrance and common areas use 569 of Zumtobel’s Perluce ceiling luminaires. Altis LED from Thorn features a flexible optical system that can be optimized for different applications, and is highly controllable, enabling instant light and even dynamic lighting displays. Altis LED’s lightweight, compact design keeps structural costs down.

Particular challenges in lighting the arena included the need for homogeneity on the vertical and horizontal planes and flicker-free light at a specific color temperature (5700K) to support HD broadcasting; the very high ceilings; and the need for products to be able to resist high ambient temperatures and moisture in the air.

Fittings also needed strong chemical resistance for use around the chlorinated pools. The lighting system for the whole arena is digitally controlled, with a total of 15,000 digital addresses – as many as the number of spectators the facility can hold.

István Zentai, technical director for the FINA World Championships Budapest, said, “The Danube Arena was planned and constructed in a very short timeframe for a particular event. What’s really wonderful is that, in that short time, the team managed to create something that not only performed brilliantly at the World Championships, but that will stand the test of time for decades to come.

“Lighting is a key part of this. This building shows how light can be the most important building material for architects. The team combined creativity, technology and a lot of hard work to get it just right. They have created something very special that Budapest can really be proud of.”

August 23, 2018



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