CULTURE

National Theater seen in new light

The choice of outdoor lighting for Athenian buildings is a relatively recent phenomenon. It was during the 1990s that the wide-scale restoration of mostly neoclassical buildings in the city center highlighted the need to enhance their appearance at nighttime. During the first decade of the 21st century, Athens has made great progress, a result of the different styles imposed by the small emerging community of experts in the field. A short stroll around Syntagma Square reveals just how much things have changed in such a short time. This progress is illustrated by the lighting project of the National Theater facade. Not only was there a lighting study – a necessary step for works of such magnitude and significance – but those responsible for the country’s largest theater decided to adopt a pioneering suggestion put forward by lighting specialists IFI, making use of LED (light-emitting diode) units. This environmentally friendly technology minimizes energy consumption – a mere 5,800 watts instead of the 54,000 watts that would be required for conventional lighting equipment. The lights in question are 4-centimeter high bars, small enough not to be visible during the day when not in use. They have a long lifespan and a 20-year maintenance-free guarantee. The lifespan of an ordinary lighting unit rarely extends beyond two years. What is more, LED technology allows the same lighting units to host different bulbs that burn at different temperatures, effectively rendering different shades of white. The implementation of the lighting study for the Aghiou Constantinou building and the fact that it is expected to be completed in two months is an indication that the renovation of the National Theater is in its final stages. And the computer-generated images of the facade look very promising.