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SUNSEEKER: street lighting reinvented

24 October 2020

©Studio VANTOT
VANTOT presents a contemporary, sustainable and interactive answer to the static street lighting with which we're all familiar. SUNSEEKER was designed, developed and created for the brand new Victoria Park in the centre of Eindhoven. The prototype will be assembled during Dutch Design Week (DDW) 2020.
© Max Kneefel

The pendulum of light modules serves as aesthetic signage during the day, a guide at night, and the connecting route between the station and Strijp. In this way, the designers bring design and technology together in nature and give the sun the role of charger. For example, SUNSEEKER has enormous potential for Smart Cities in making cities all over the world smarter, more sustainable and more liveable.
Not many designers experiment in such a progressive and idiosyncratic way within the world of lighting as VANTOT does. From LED to solar cell, Esther Jongsma and Sam van Gurp have developed into lighting specialists at their studio VANTOT. We know the designers for their innovative lighting for interiors, in which they show that contemporary LED technologies do not have to be hidden away in power strips or thick insulated cables, but are poetic and can be awe-inspiring. With their more comprehensive projects, the designers are now taking new steps in public space with innovative and intelligent street lighting entitled SUNSEEKER. With this, the designers are responding to a demand that does not yet exist. “The world of street lighting is still quite conservative. With SUNSEEKER, we contrast a sustainable, contemporary, and interactive design with one that creates an interesting level of tension: is it art? Is it street lighting? Or is it something less definable in between?”, according to the designers.

© Max Kneefel

Human enlightenment

The garland of umbrella-shaped lanterns is their answer to the static street lighting we know. With this intervention and addition to the public space, people literally experience an alternative: the light line is dynamic and interactive; the modules move with the sun and respond to passing people. This sparks a feeling of wonder, imagination and the possibility that someone may identify with it, but also encourages a different way of thinking about sustainability. “We can impart poetry and humanity to something technical and almost elusive. For us, technology is always cleverly and logically integrated into the aesthetic design,” say the designers. "That is the strength of good design for us."
The 500-meter-long light line that will hang above the Victoria Park in Eindhoven like a lantern garland of light modules, contributing to the atmosphere, experience and quality of life of the public space. At the same time, the designers make solar cells energy tangible, they give the sun the role of the charger and in this way meet the municipality's goal of creating an energy-neutral park with the Victoria Park - which must be completed in 2023 - that should also provide surrounding residences with power.

Tightrope walking sunflowers during the day

And not only that, SUNSEEKER provides dynamic visuals during the day. The individual luminaires on the light line behave just like people looking for the sunniest spot. The smart modules are equipped with a light sensor and, like tightrope walkers, can move along the light line with the position of the sun in search of the sunniest spot. So they never unnecessarily hang in the shade of the trees, clouds or surrounding buildings. At the same time, the SUNSEEKER moves around its axis like a sunflower, always looking for the optimal position in relation to the sun. And that provides as much energy as possible, also to illuminate the night.

© Max Kneefel

Guide in the night

People feel safer at night in the park or on the street when the sympathetic string of lights functions as a guide in the night, serves as signage and forms a visual connecting route from a to b, such as from the centre of Eindhoven to Strijp. Even at night, SUNSEEKER can move along and interact with the people walking in the park by changing the light intensity and colour. The bottom of the ring of the lighting module lights up like a halo when you walk in the park. Surrounding residents have an exclusive view of a subtle play of light from their balconies or through the window. So there is always something to do, day and night.

Potential for collaboration

VANTOT has worked hard in recent years with a team of experts to develop the SUNSEEKER. From design to reality. Sam and Esther proved that the roles of project leader and bridge-builder between all participating parties suits them like a glove. After all, they know how to bring two different worlds together: the municipality of Eindhoven and the province of Brabant, regional specialists such as builders, project developers, engineers, solar cell suppliers and research centres and the creative world. “Learning by doing pays off,” said Sam and Esther. "The collaboration enables us to create even better and smarter designs that ensure that dynamic street lighting, a product that originated in Eindhoven, can soon be used more widely in North Brabant, the Netherlands and the rest of the world."

© ©Studio VANTOT

3D world

Looking for a new way to test the large scale of the design and to determine the size and details of the design, VANTOT conceived and developed something special together with digital expert Roel Deden. Using VR technology, the designers now have an important new digital design tool with which to simulate a world and adjust it in real-time. In this way, you can create your own 3D world, the hypothetical environment of the park in which the SUNSEEKER will be hanging, and you can bring the design to life and make it tangible at an early stage in the design process. “We can let potential collaborating parties experience an entire 24-hour period in a few minutes so that they can visualize how the lighting reacts both during the day and at night, what the SUNSEEKER can actually look like and what its potential is”, say the designers. The SUNSEEKER 3D world is just as dynamic as the SUNSEEKER itself and can be fed with new ideas, prototypes and locations, making that virtual world a little bigger and richer.