Designed by the prestigious architect Necip Dinç, the Merkez Nur mosque is a religious symbol for the city of Kirikkale. To highlight and demonstrate its spiritual identity at night, mosque leaders wanted to light the 26,000m2 building with dynamic exterior lighting.
Ayrim Yaser Talu, lighting designer from ZEVE Engineering and Lighting in Istanbul, embraced the challenge. His work earned him the Award of Merit from the International Association of Lighting Designers.
Interview with Ayrim Yaser Talu, lighting designer:
What is the architectural scale of the Merkez Nur mosque?
Inspired by the late Ottoman architecture, it consists of a main dome, eight carrier columns, four secondary domes, five entrance domes and four three-balcony minarets. The main dome has an inner diameter of 20m and a height of 32m. The height of the minarets is 61m. The mosque extends east and west, with a domed portico surrounding the courtyard.
What was the brief for the lighting design?
It asked us to emphasize the spiritual identity of the mosque and to create an icon for the city of Kirikkale.
What was your main creative motivation?
Our lighting design work started with a few simple questions: could we really use light to add emotion to the building? Does light really have the power to influence people?
What is the spirit of the lighting on this project?
Mysticism. We used light and shadow to add a mystic appearance to the building, and to give definition to it by creating contrast. For example, we added three-dimensionality to the onion-shaped mini domes on the carrier columns by placing an incident light a short distance away.
How did you play with the color temperature?
We selected different color temperatures in order to create fine gradations between the mosque’s complex surfaces. For example, the main dome was lit from its slopes in cool white, and the brass crescent on the top of it and minarets in super-warm white. The carrier columns around the dome and the patterned windows between them were lit in warm white.
Why did you use LED lighting?
Firstly, we wanted to benefit from the low energy consumption of the LED light sources and precise light beams of LED fixtures. Secondly, the design process for this complex structure was quite challenging, so we needed various types of lighting fixtures, with different beam angles and in different powers. At that point, we chose the wide range of Philips Color Kinetics products.
What were the main difficulties that you faced?
To anticipate any difficulties, we did very sensitive 3D modeling of the mosque beforehand. We also made photorealistic night renderings during the final design. This gave us an interactive environment through which we could get feedback from the architect and the owners.
How were the lighting controls made?
We used a very conventional approach to lighting control, based on pre-planned scenarios. Using the 3D models, we created nighttime scenarios and grouped the lighting fixtures accordingly.
How did the mosque believers respond to this innovative illumination?
Many people were shooting photos and taking selfies with the mosque behind them in the background.
This projet have been awarded the "Award of Merit" in the 33rd edition of the IALD International Lighting Design Awards 2016.