Lighting Design and Its Implementation in the Kansai International Airport

Large-space indirect lighting on the 4th Floor of Passenger Terminal Building

Fig.1 Large-space indirect lighting on the 4th Floor of Passenger Terminal Building

Lighting in a wing running north and south

Fig.2 Lighting in a wing running north and south

Up to now, interior lighting for huge spaces such as airport passenger terminals, gymnasiums, and factories has been achieved by direct lighting for the most part from the viewpoint of energy efficiency. In addition, lighting devices installed on high ceilings have been maintained and inspected using automatic lowering and raising equipment (“auto lifters”) controlled by switch operation from the floor to save on labor.

In contrast, the 4th floor of the Passenger Terminal Building at the Kansai International Airport completed in 1994 makes use of indirect lighting in which open air ducts for air conditioning are used as reflective panels. A total of 19 open air ducts constructed as white Teflon-based airfoils run along the length of the ceiling in a closely packed arrangement. Here, air for cooling and heating blown out from 19 air-conditioning units runs along the airfoils to spread to every corner of the terminal in a uniform way.

As intended by terminal designer Renzo Piano, this achieves “soft lighting without shadows as produced by shoji (a sliding door consisting of traditional Japanese paper)” that captures the flavor of traditional Japanese architecture without hurting spatial design. Although terminal ceilings in this airport have sections in which no lighting devices can be installed because of maintenance and design considerations, this design overcomes this limitation.

The 4th floor of the Passenger Terminal Building—the international departures floor—includes “check-in islands” and technical boxes Lighting devices are installed on top of those islands and boxes with the purpose of illuminating the open air ducts on the ceiling. Using indirect lighting in this manner prevents glare from lighting devices. The floor of the terminal also includes tree-shaped poles called “technical trees” equipped with lighting devices to illuminate floor and ceiling areas, and terminal walls are equipped with brackets to support lighting devices for the same purpose. Either of these structures makes for easy maintenance and inspections.

This large space on the 4th floor of the Passenger Terminal Building achieves average floor luminance of 200 lux despite this soft, indirect lighting. And in other parts of the terminal, technical trees are arranged much like lamp posts in a park, and the mixture of direct lighting from these trees and indirect lighting from lighting on brackets creates a unique atmosphere.

Apart from lighting in the above Passenger Terminal Building, the Kansai International Airport features a world-class airfield lighting system to provide departing and landing pilots with visual information. This is because it had to satisfy category III optical characteristics of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and construct a system having an advanced level of preventive-maintenance management to be ranked as an Asia hub.

Embedded airfield lighting developed for runways and taxiways must be able to withstand the shocks and vibrations accompanying the landing and taking off of airplanes, and it must provide uniform luminosity while keeping the height of lighting fixtures protruding from the ground as low as possible. The technical difficulty of these requirements is very high.

And to fully demonstrate the performance of airfield lighting, vehicles that can determine the temporal variation of lighting in real time and equipment that can efficiently pull up lighting devices and conduct performance inspections and maintenance have been developed. The introduction of such a preventive-maintenance management system enables management target values to be set and replacement periods for lighting devices to be estimated to maintain airfield-lighting optical characteristics as required by common global standards.

In 1994, the Illuminating Engineering Institute of Japan presented Haruo Inoue, Hota Araya (Kansai International Airport Co., Ltd.), Renzo Piano (Building Workshop Japan), Noriaki Okabe (Building Workshop Japan), Yo Sasaki, Toshiaki Miyoshi (Nikken Sekkei Ltd.), Yoshiaki Niona (Japan Airport Consultants, Inc.), and Isamu Doi (Matsushita Electric Works, Ltd.) with the Japan Lighting Award in recognition of the above designs and technical developments.

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