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Pharos burns bright in Toronto

Over 60 Pharos LPC lighting controllers have been used to help beautify the lighting on Toronto’s Bloor Street, one of the city’s most important residential and commercial streets.

Set within the Yorkville neighbourhood and running approximately 16 miles long, Bloor Street is home to the famous Mink Mile. This popular shopping area plays host to a number of international luxury retailers, alongside a wealth of mid-market stores.

As part of the city beautification project, which was commissioned by the Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Area (BIA), Bloor Street has undergone a transformation, with regeneration works including new pavements, public art installations, landscape elements and street furnishings. This was all underpinned by a creative and inspiring lighting design, which was conceptualised and created by Mulvey & Banani Lighting inc.

One of the most striking features of the project are the innovative public spaces – dubbed the “Urban Campfire Benches”. These 63 outdoor benches have a 270-degree circular shape and are made from wood, granite and stainless steel. Designed to celebrate art, business and community, the benches are illuminated after dark with colour changing LEDs that resemble their namesake campfire.

Each Urban Campfire Bench has a Lighting Playback Controller (LPC) from Pharos  installed within it. Pharos Architectural Controls was appointed to the project through Luminism, who were responsible for the integration of the project, as well as several elements of custom fabrication. The LPC 1 is an award-winning, all-in-one control solution that features lighting design flexibility, standalone 24/7 operation, and powerful integration and remote management features. These controllers allow for the dynamic, precise, and fully customisable pre-programmed lighting effects, as well as on demand control of brightness and colour for any individual bench via an integration link to head end controllers.

Each of the 63 benches are completely autonomous, and while fiery orange is the most common colour for the lighting of the Urban Campfire Benches, the Pharos LPC ensures that the benches automatically adjust to an array of different colours that suit a full year’s programme of diverse events, based on the seasons, public holidays, calendar events, and other special occasions.

As an added experiential element, visitors can interact with the lighting through two fire-shaped buttons installed on every bench. These house touch sensors, and there is an added ‘Easter Egg’ feature if the user discovers the correct input sequence.

Adding new lighting looks is also easy as the system utilises the Installation Replications feature in Pharos Designer, where the programming for just one bench is updated, then the same programming can be effortlessly uploaded to every controller. As well as the LPCs installed into each of the 63 benches, there are six master control stations  which also use Pharos LPC 1s – making a grand total of 69 LPC 1s for the entire project. The six master controllers, one on each block, allow the BIA to perform any short notice or last-minute overrides to the set programme. This enables the control of colours and effects across all of the benches. This feature is made possible by using Lumentalk™, which is a proprietary DMX over power line communication. Lumentalk is a leading solution from Lumenpulse that allows lighting control data to flow over existing high voltage lines. Lumenpulse, one of Pharos’ lighting industry partners, and Pharos, have together done a number of LED retrofit projects where Lumentalk was able to bring control to locations where adding new DMX wiring was not possible.

In addition to the Lumentalk solution, the fixtures in the benches have been supplied by another of Pharos’ partners, GVA. GVA is a Canadian manufacturer of innovative, high-end, specification grade architectural LED lighting systems who work closely with Pharos on a range of worldwide projects.

The 63 benches run along Bloor Street from the junctions with Church Street to Avenue Road and will be a permanent fixture of the area’s urban furniture. They offer an engaging and safe place to sit, chat or rest, and are a unique must-see attraction of the area. The benches have been thoughtfully designed, with a sitting area for four to five people. An elm tree is planted inside each of the ‘campfires’, playing host to lighting decorations in the winter, while providing shade in the summer months.

Michael Grosse (MG), Technical Sales Manager for Pharos Architectural Controls said: “The Bloor Street Urban Campfire Benches are an incredible demonstration of a creative approach to enliven street furniture. They epitomise the role that lighting and lighting control can have an on area and a structure. The Pharos team are thrilled to have been part of this innovative project that has transformed such a popular and patronised street in the wonderful city of Toronto.”

The Urban Campfire Benches have been incredibly well-received by residents, businesses and visitors, and have become something of an iconic sight in the area. The project has received widespread national and international media attention, putting Bloor Street firmly on the map in Canada and beyond.

Project team:

Client – The Bloor Yorkville BIA

Lighting Design – Mulvey & Banani Lighting

Landscape Architect – DTAH

Furniture Design – Hauser

Lighting solutions – Lumentalk by Lumenpulse

Project programming – Pharos Architectural Controls

GC / Installation – Somerville Construction

Electrical / Installation – Fitzpatrick Electric Contractor Inc.

Commissioning – Luminism

Photography and video courtesy of Mulvey & Banani Lighting