Let there be light – Letzigrund-style

Zurich's new Letzigrund Stadium will be revealed in all its glory at the 2008 European Cup and the World Class Zurich athletics meeting, thanks to the spectacular lighting which Alpiq subsidiary Kummler+Matter helped to install.

At 20:45 on 17 June 2008, Zurich will be the focus of attention of TV viewers around Europe and fans lucky enough to have tickets, when the European Cup match between France and Italy kicks off at the new Letzigrund Stadium. To make sure spectators don't miss anything in this highly anticipated evening encounter, one thing above all is needed: an excellent lighting system. Fortunately, that's exactly what the Letzigrund Stadium now boasts. And Kummler+Matter's VT business unit, experts in special electrical systems and transport technology, played a key role in its realisation. In collaboration with Regent Lighting, Hess Hefti Martignoni and architects Bétrix & Consolascio, the business unit implemented the stadium's unusual lighting concept.

The most striking feature is the 31 floodlight towers that already dominate Zurich's skyline, rising like opening flower buds from the inner periphery of the stadium roof. Altogether the stadium has more than 398 floodlights, affixed in groups of 7 to 8 on and under the roof as well as at the roof edge.

A brilliant solution with no blinding effect

One of the greatest challenges posed by the new Letzigrund Stadium was to come up with a lighting system that would meet the requirements of athletics events as well as football matches. Lighting had to be adequate for a track and field area measuring 15,000 m2 as well as a football pitch measuring 7,140 m2. An exact calculation of the lighting requirements was pivotal to finding the optimal solution. For example, no floodlights could be erected at an angle of more than 15° from the sidelines, in order to prevent goalkeepers and players from being blinded by the light.

Minergie standards also met

In addition to the outdoor areas, it was also necessary to find a solution for indoor lighting. The system was kept highly functional, the main criteria being bright rooms, efficient lights and lighting controls. This called for special care when planning and installing the lights, particularly because the Minergie standards imposed by the city had to be complied with. Another special feature was the need to provide duplicated electrical connectivity in order to ensure interruption-free lighting and avoid the use of lights with immediate hot re-ignition. So when Italy and France battle it out on the Letzigrund pitch, no-one needs to worry that the lights will suddenly go out.

Mussel with "flying" roof

The Letzigrund Stadium was inaugurated on 30 August 2007, only a year after construction work began. Since then it has won rave reviews as a multifunctional arena without peripheral uses. Depending on the event it has seating capacity for 25,000 (football), 30,000 (track and field) or 50,000 (concerts). The special architectural form, reminiscent of a flattened mussel, was achieved by sinking the playing field level by eight meters. The spectators' tribune is at the eastern end, connected to the restaurant by a ramp over which soars the roof.