The two iconic lions of Rashtrapati Bhavan – North Block and South Block – would be a daily visual treat as their lighting shift gears from static to dynamic façade lighting during the night time Wednesday onwards. The blocks will be illuminated by 1.6 crore colour combinations, varied patterns and themes with colours changing every few seconds over an area of 21,450sqm from 7 pm to 5 am.
The new dynamic façade lighting has a multitude of advantages over the outgoing conventional special lighting that lit the buildings up on eight select days in a year, including Independence Day, Republic Day and some national festivals. The lights and fixtures are more durable, cost-effective, energy-efficient and environment-friendly, according to the Union Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MHUA).
The entire network of new dynamic lighting uses the “state-of-the-art” RGB LED technology. With 40km of unified power and data cabling, it has a central computerised control and automated selection of colour combinations, enabling selection of timing, dimming and switching on and off facility, as well as individual and combined control of light fittings through Ethernet-based controller.
Installed by Central Public Works Department (CPWD), the new dynamic façade lighting of the two renowned buildings will be switched on by Mahipal Singh, the senior most support staff (Multi Tasking Staff) of the Ministry of Home, housed in the North Block on Wednesday at 6.30 am. It will be on show from 7 pm to 5 am round the year, with full capacity prime time lighting from 8 pm to 9 pm. With inherent dimming facility, the electrical load will be 25% during 7.00 pm to 7.30 pm and 10.00 pm to 5.00 am, and the load will be 50% during the rest of the night.
“It is capable of providing both volume and focus lighting to highlight the architectural features of the historical buildings, a fine blend of the traditional Indian and British architecture, further enhancing the grandeur, treating the visitors to a new feast of colours. The frontal façade, loggia, central dome, flag posts, etc, will be highlighted by the new lighting using narrow, medium and wide degree beam angles as required. The light fittings have external lenses to enable change of beam angles as per site requirement. It has an inherent capability and versatility for choosing different colour themes and schemes on special occasions,” officials of the ministry informed.
“The annual saving on account of new lighting of 21,450sqm of façade area in respect of replacement, maintenance and operation cost will be Rs 86.40 lakh. The life of the new LED light fittings is over one lakh burning hours, coming to about 25 years as against only 10,000 burning hours for the existing. Energy consumption by the present limited conventional lighting using LED, metal halide and sodium vapour light fittings is Rs 17.00 lakh per year, double that of the extended year round new dynamic lighting with an energy consumption of only Rs 8.40 lakh per year,” the official added.
All new light fittings are dust, vermin and moisture proof with outdoor weather protection of the “highest order” of IP-66 with robust design. It also conforms to the “most stringent” international regulatory framework of environmental and technical parameters such as RoHS, UL and CE. “It will not have any effect on the sandstone structures of the North and South Block buildings. Care has been taken to protect the heritage character of these famed buildings. All light fittings are outdoor and placed either on the ground in front lawns or on roof top.”
CPWD, which has put in extensive efforts towards conceptualisation, designing and execution, has informed MHUA that the initial investment of Rs 15.40 crore for the new lighting will be recovered in just 6-7 years, and thereafter the system becoming virtually free of cost as against costs being incurred every year now.
Under the present lighting system, 50,000 of 3W LED bulbs in strings nailed on walls of the iconic buildings are being used for special lighting on eight occasions in a year, besides 170 lamps of 400 MW/250 MW metal halide and sodium vapour for façade lighting and 72 LED lights for security lighting. The new dynamic lighting system with 800 fittings will do away with all of these.