Paul Nulty Lighting Design (PNLD) has developed a lighting design concept, titled, “Flock of Birds,” bringing art and light to Crawley Mall Shopping Centre and creating a grand sculpture within the impressive space.
Paying homage to the Old English translation of the Crawley name, “clearing frequented by crows,” and acknowledging the centre’s proximity to Gatwick, PNLD wanted the sculpture to portray the theme of flight. PNLD’s concept of Flock of Birds captures the form and elegance of airborne birds using colour-changing LEDs that pulse a wash of vibrancy up and down the sculpture, giving different, glowing intensity throughout the day and across the seasons. At 125m long, the permeable sculpture draws the eye through the length and breadth of the flight path that meanders through the void, creating depth and filling the large volume without overpowering the space. The sculpture carries and influences mood with its waves of vibrant and soft colours but surpasses the human eye’s capabilities with 16 million permeations of colour across 400 individual LED birds.
As shoppers step into the centre, the linear form of the sculpture feels welcoming as it undulates above drawing they’re through the space and emphasising permeability. PNLD wanted to create rhythm and a sense of playfulness but a concept that was strong enough to determine itself as a sculpture in its own right.A challenge for PNLD was to deliver an experience and turn the centre into a destination without creating a distraction from the retail brands inside the shopping mall. The concept also had to be low energy and deliver low maintenance costs. To achieve this, PNLD used 30 watt LEDs; as a result, the sculpture requires only the same amount of energy as 10 kettles and can last up to 100,000 hours, or approximately seven years, 24 hours a day.
Paul Nulty, head of practice, said: “The challenge was to create an innovative and bespoke experience and influence mood through the complexity of a light sculpture on a large scale, but to do this with low energy output and maintenance in mind. The concept needed to have relevance and Crawley, as a clearing for birds, provided a perfect opportunity to design something dramatic and with meaning. Visitors should feel the energy of Flock of Birds as they walk through, but the sculpture is also delicate enough not to detract from surrounding brands and distract them from what they are there to do.”