Frozen light

Lighting technology put to the test in Swedish Lapland.

In Arjeplog, a small town in a region just below the arctic circle, they build an igloo hotel out of the masses of snow every year. Over the last few years this unique nature hotel has become a popular destination for those seeking a holiday experience of a very special kind between the months of January and April. This is the time of year when Swedish Lapland is covered by a thick layer of ice and snow. Lakes are frozen, roads blocked or as slippery as they can get, and the sunlight is limited to a few hours a day. Pretty unusual daylight conditions whatever way you look at it. The greatest compensation: the northern lights, always a breathtaking spectacle in such climes.

It takes a considerable amount of effort to create the huge snow-white hotel complex. And installing the interior lighting system over a surface area of 1000 square metres is equally demanding: the cabling, cutting-edge LED technology, software, control modules, technical containers, and more. As a partner to this ambitious tourism project, Wibre has supplied a total of 90 lighting fixtures, many of which were originally designed and constructed for application under water (IP68), for the exterior and interior lighting of the snow palace igloo hotel. The luminaires are equipped with one, three, twelve or 36 LEDs, and are DMX-controlled to enable the lighting to be adjusted to align with the time of day or to programme colour changing sequences. This is particularly important, given the little natural light available, but also to create suitable atmospheres for parties or events held there, to support guests’ healthy sleep patterns and wellness activities, and to celebrate the design of the unusual "hostel".

In this context, four Wibre product types were selected for use outside their original field of application: a recessed underwater spotlight has been installed in all the igloo bedrooms. This spotlight is equipped with a Multichip POW- LED RGB and enables slow colour change. A follow-up model is currently under development. A compact inground RGB LED spotlight has been recess mounted in the connecting corridors and seating areas to provide accent lighting. In the outdoor area, as well as in various other igloos, a flush-mounted inground luminaire equipped with twelve POW-LEDs has been applied. All the larger snow spaces, the event igloo and specific outdoor areas have received powerful inground luminaires equipped with 36 POW-LEDs. These feature a wider beam spread and can deliver white or, with POW-RGB LEDs, coloured light.

The lighting design concept was developed and realised by Licht- Team Speyer, who have been on board with this project from the start. The concept they developed involves coloured light applied to contrast with the snow-white environment. The play of light and shadow they have created uses different luminous colours and intensities, combined with the purposeful application of white light, to create depth. The interior spaces are artistically redesigned under a different motto every year by the Academy for Crafts and Design in Aachen, Germany. The sculpted blocks of ice glow in a variety of intensities and colours, creating appropriate ambiences in the small and large igloos. Light accentuates niches and corners, supports wayfinding along long corridors or breathes life into the densely packed walls of snow, the ice crystals sparkling subtly and further enhancing the atmosphere in the cave-like igloo spaces.

In former days, the only way to bring any light at all into the traditional igloos was via a tunnel construction. That has now changed. Especially in the case of such an advanced tourist attraction of the likes of the Iglootel. The fact that visitors actually opt to stay there in the pleasant and comfy atmosphere that holds sway in spite of the inevitable cold has a lot to do with the durabi- lity of the luminaires, which perform to perfection under arctic conditions for months at a time. Further evidence of how advanced the manufacture of lighting equipment using state-of-the-art lighting technology has become.

Project team:

Lighting design: Licht-Team Speyer
Interior design: Academy for Crafts and Design in Aachen/DE
Partners/suppliers: Wibre, Drees Gmbh, LEDitgo; Rent Event Tec Gmbh

Products applied:

Recessed underwater spotlight (IP68) 4.0133
In-ground exterior spotlight (IP67) 4.0026
In-ground exterior spotlight (IP67) 4.0197
In-ground exterior spotlight (IP67) 4.0304