Light Artist James Turrell Works with Zumtobel on Skyspace Lech Installation

Light artist James Turrell, again worked with LED lighting from Zumtobel. In his latest work, Skyspace Lech, Turrel blends the mostly underground Skyspace Lech into the landscape of the Arlberg mountains in western Austria. Those passing, see just an elliptical dome and a similarly rounded construction made from natural stone. However, below these features lies an oval light room with an opening in the ceiling offering a unique view of the sky.

Zumtobel assisted light artist James Turrell with Skyspace Lech.

Zumtobel assisted light artist James Turrell with Skyspace Lech. The purple lit room is open to the sky.

The effect of Turrell’s contemporary art can be experienced alongside the natural scenery of the Arlberg, located among alpine passes, hiking trails, and stunning mountains. The “Horizon Field” society, an organization that promotes cultural projects in the county of Vorarlberg, commissioned Turrel for the project. Turrell created a new Skyspace in the alpine landscape near the village of Lech am Arlberg.

Zumtobel Lighting Solution Shapes Sensory Perception of Visitors

A customized lighting solution from Zumtobel immerses this space in a varied series of colors and actively shapes the sensory perception of visitors. Turrell creates his Skyspaces to realize a unique connection between the earth and the sky. As a long-term lighting partner of James Turrell, Zumtobel has aided the artist with various projects and recently supported him with a lighting project at Frieder Burda Museum.

Luxeon High Power

The artist’s design of Skyspace Lech started with a complete set of drawings and sketches by Turrell. Then, based on these artistic representations, Austrian architects Baumschlager Eberle from Lustenau planned the complex building, in collaboration with its long-term lighting partner Zumtobel.

Project a Complex Combination of Extreme Weather and Design Requirements

The extreme weather, the impact of humans and animals, safety concerns, and the shape, statics, and requirements of angles and surfaces, as well as the need to perfectly illuminate the various spaces, combined presented an extraordinary challenge for the planners. The goal of the Horizon Field society, the architects and the companies involved was to realize a construction that meets both high aesthetic and functional standards.

The building materials and LED technology specified for the project had to withstand the sun, heat, rain, snow, ice, and cold in addition to the temperature fluctuations ranging from minus 25 degrees to
plus 30 degrees Celcius are not uncommon in this region during the course of the year. However, the structure is mostly underground, and only the dome, the natural stone base and a light, metal cupola are visible from
outside.

Tunnel Provides Access to Lighting Installation

An underground tunnel provides access to the installation. The tunnel was carefully aligned to provide views of the imposing Biberkopf peak, before opening into the light space itself. On the summer solstice, as the sun rises behind the Biberkopf, the first rays of sunshine reach the so-called Sensing Room. In this room, elliptical openings carved into the ceiling give striking views of the Arlberg sky.

Zumtobel partnered with light artist James Turrell on Skyspace Lech. Picture showing tunnel opening.

Zumtobel partnered with light artist James Turrell on Skyspace Lech. Picture showing tunnel opening.

Turrell flooded the subterranean building in a changing series of bright light colors. Skyspace Lech integrates the “Ganzfeldraum”, which uses the Ganzfeld” or “full-field” approach that Turrell originated. The full field example takes effect when the dome is closed. The technique that Turrell developed previously involves the use of a completely featureless, evenly flooded field of vision that offers no orientation due to its perfect homogeneity.

The Zumtobel lighting solution features an Amber LED strip with an RGB color changing function and a tunable White stripe. Zumtobel programmed the lighting in advance in close coordination with Mr. Turrell. A Luxmate DMX controls system manages the control of the dynamic lighting. Turrell chose Opal diffusers to make the lighting transition from the beginning of the passageway to the Skyspace room as gentle as possible.

“Light is so much more than just lighting. It influences our feelings, our thoughts, and our actions. It is therefore very important for us, as an international lighting company, to show people what light can really do – beyond the familiar applications. James Turrell’s art puts light in a very poetic and sensory context and makes observers somehow feel with their eyes,” explained Karin Zumtobel, head of Culture & Arts Zumtobel Group.