Human centric lighting by iGuzzini for The Retreat at Blue Lagoon

The Retreat is a new space that welcomes guests looking for relaxation and the benefits of the mineral-rich water of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland’s Reykjanes UNESCO Global Geopark.

That is why The Retreat boasts controlled lighting levels and Warm Dimming technology; and an authentic sun and moon effect has been created for the bedrooms’ ceilings, thanks to the custom SoleLuna luminaire specifically created for The Retreat.

The Retreat’s architect, Sigríður Sigþórsdóttir, a founding partner of Basalt Architects, has been involved with Blue Lagoon Spa since it was established in 1987. For The Retreat he worked with both Sigurður Þorsteinsson and Design Group Italia.

The design of The Retreat seeks to offer guests all the beauty of the lagoon while minimising the building’s impact on the surrounding environment. The building’s layout is based on an in-depth geomorphological study of the rifts and crevices that make up this volcanic landscape and the construction materials have been chosen to blend with the colours and textures of the landscape.

The lighting design

The lighting concept developed by Guðjón Sigurðsson is based on concentrated cones of light and an intimate atmosphere. Lighting levels are carefully controlled and many of the products used were chosen because of their optics and the special Warm Dimming features that allow light intensity to be reduced while simultaneously warming the colour temperature.

Most of the luminaires have been built into the architecture or furnishings, a decision that required constant collaboration between Liska, the Basalt studio and Design Group Italia – the lighting designer, the architect and the interior designer.

An extremely important part of the mood of the new Blue Lagoon structure is the spa, which has an intimate atmosphere with low lighting levels and accent light effects in certain points. The entrance corridor is lit with a Linealuce Compact RGB luminaire, set to amber-red colours that filter through the perforated porous material of the walls to create an incandescent lava effect. The colour temperatures used inside the spa range between 2400 and 3000 K.

The shared spaces in the hotel have the same intimate lighting design. The hotel corridor, which mirrors the zig-zag shape of the windowed side of the bedrooms, is lit by 2700 K Underscore light lines positioned vertically in the niches in the walls.

In the reception and restaurant areas, track have been installed in a set-back position with Laser Blade and Tecnica Pro projectors mounted on them; this can provide slightly more homogeneous lighting, albeit at very low levels, with subtle accents to highlight interior design details like vases or paintings.

The vertical surfaces, most of which are in untreated concrete are illuminated from above with grazing light from Underscore Grazer luminaires recessed in the architectural gullies.

Outdoors, the artificial lighting is carefully controlled and depends on small signs and light lines. iWay and iTeka bollards have been installed along the access avenues. Trick luminaires with a 180° light blade have been mounted them under the windows of the bedrooms to project a horizontal line of light that illuminates the seam of minerals deposited along the lava rocks; this creates the same bleaching effect that is present during the day. In some transit areas between the interior and exterior spaces, Underscore light lines have been used, dimmed to a minimum, while recessed Laser Blade InOut luminaires have been mounted on the verandas.

Bedroom lighting

Particular care has been taken over the lighting in bedrooms. The entrance door to each room is positioned exactly opposite the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lagoon to wow arriving guests; they immediately find themselves right in the heart of nature in a direct relationship with the outside world that cannot be compromised by artificial light. Even the warning lights of the electronic devices have been removed to increase the depth of the darkness.

This is why there is no diffuse, homogeneous lighting in the room; instead the lighting scheme uses small light points and only where they are necessary. These include a recessed Laser (Ø 75mm) luminaire with warm dimming, above the bath; and 2700 K Underscore light lines, one installed in the bed head as a reading light and another inserted in the foot of the and activated by a presence sensor to provide a courtesy light at night.

A specific lighting system has also been designed for the clothes hanging area, which consists of an extruded sheet with three hooks, a recessed Ø 17 mm Laser luminaire and a small Underscore 15 section.

The other key feature is the SoleLuna luminaire designed for this project. The lighting designer asked iGuzzini to create a totally natural effect on the ceiling, just as if there were a real sun and moon in the room. Guðjón Sigurðsson wanted people to look at the luminaire and see the same faint halo that is created around the sun and moon by the earth’s atmosphere. In other words, a highly natural light effect that would blur the perimeter and the area on the ceiling around it.

The solution involved developing numerous parts, including a 1.2m diameter ceiling-mounted luminaire, fixing plates with LED circuits and a range of colour temperatures combining a 2100 K, 85 CRI amber, a 4000 K, 90 CRI white and a 6000 K, 90 CRI white (the latter values are particularly significant as it is extremely difficult to create such high colour rendering indexes with very cold colour temperatures); cables for adjusting the height of the luminaire; and a Clipso acoustic ceiling covering which creates the blurred effect envisaged by Sigurðsson.

To make everything user-friendly for the hotel guests, the different light scenarios are extremely easy to control. A small panel has been inserted in the bedhead with four buttons to activate different light atmosphere effects – Relaxing, with low lighting levels of approximately 50 Lux and a warm colour temperature; Energizing, which raises the lighting levels to 350 Lux without the amber component; Day, with lighting levels of approximately 120 Lux; and Night, where only the 4000 and 6000 K LEDs are operated with a number of circuits switched off to reproduce the dark spots on the moon’s surface.

A subtle wake-up call can be added to this variable light system. This has to be booked at reception; at the time indicated by the guest, a five-minute dynamic light cycle is activated, with the light intensity shifting from 0 to 90 percent and from amber to a colour temperature of 5600K. Guests are woken up gently and gradually, by light rather than sound.


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