Known as the “City of Eternal Fires”, Baku’s history inspired the flame shape building form and lighting animation of Baku Flame Towers. This iconic building’s lighting transforms the city’s skyline, promoting its historic identity. The internal illumination system seamlessly integrated into the curved building form expresses the transparency of the architecture and creates lanterns at night. The versatile, programmable LED system provides opportunity to create a wide range of abstracted patterns and illustrated images that warp and twist with the building skin, creating a unique perception of movement and light.
The Baku Flame Towers stands distinctly, 190m tall, among the horizon of mid-rise historic buildings. Translating Baku’s history of abundant natural gas and its vibrant future, is the Flame Tower’s dynamic façade lighting system, installed behind the building’s windows to give the illusion of ribbons of light. Custom LED lighting systems were designed to project dynamic color and imagery, lower power consumption and sustain a lifetime of 15-20 years for reduced maintenance. Fixture housings, designed for easy installation into the curtain wall system, are accessible from the building interior.
The lighting system consists of LED bands, mounted between exterior glass wall mullions, approximately 1.2 meters apart. Each LED band, containing four 300 cm lengths, are controlled separately for color and variability, creating a three dimensional field of illumination. Reflectorized housings, designed and placed to project lighting effects outward, are not visible from within, to avoid obstructions from city views. LED band lengths consistently maintain a maximum gap between fixture and window frame of less than 15mm. The building’s unique curvilinear form and multiple window dimensions, required precise calculations and a flexible mounting solution, resulting in a minimized variety of 16 different lengths.
The 10,000 LED units across three towers are controlled by a central computer, project animated graphics across the building skin from mpg or avi file format. More than 25km of data cabling connect individual LED units in a networked array, addressing each 300mm pixel and mapping those points to a central processor, controlling the lighting effects of each tower independently or in unison to present a synchronized effect. Pre-programmed effects are deployed at specific time intervals to respond to time-of-day as well as to mark culturally significant holidays and celebrations. LED boards, custom populated with red, green, blue and red, green, amber diodes, provide a full spectrum of color even when viewed through the highly reflective, color-tinted glazing. The resulting system allows for a smooth, fluid animation, enabling the use of any sort of media to be transferred into the projection system.
Typically displaying burning flames, the intelligent control system allows for simple lighting show changes for subtle, dynamic artistic expressions and as well as broadcasting of significant local events and messages. From the standpoint of engineering, seamless architecturally integrated solutions and maximized lighting effects, the project represents technical expertise both in terms of the architectural and lighting system. Transforming the building from day to a nighttime beacon, the lighting façade system has the ability to animate the city’s skyline, representing something truly dynamic about Baku and Azerbaijan’s re-emergence onto the world stage.
The state of Azerbaijan, which has been independent since 1991, has a wealth of crude oil and natural gas reserves and is therefore a major exporter of these resources. This position of dominance is symbolised by the three Flame Towers in Baku, the capital city of the country on the Caspian Sea. Visible for miles around, the three skyscrapers soar above the town centre and harbour like flickering flames. The tower positioned to the south, the tallest of the three, has 39 storeys and houses 130 luxury apartments, with spectacular views of the land and sea guaranteed. Positioned to the north is the 36 storey hotel tower of the Canadian operator Fairmont. The office tower, comprising more than 33,000 m² of prime real estate, is situated to the west of the complex. All three structures “stand” on a single base, which accommodates a shopping and service centre open to both visitors and users of the buildings. A pre-fabricated modular panel façade was used for the glass, amorphous-shaped building envelopes, which enabled quick installation on site.