Clicks and Bricks

In Hong Kong, commerce is undoubtedly king, with enough retail space to satiate even the most obsessed shopaholic. When it was time for Hong Kong mogul Dickson Poon to open a new retail facility, he decided to open the world first "clicks and bricks" cyber mall located inside the Kowloon station of Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway (MTR). Dickson Cyber Express, a massive 70,000-sq.-ft. retail facility that opened last September, is the work of a host of firms spanning the globe.

Several Michigan-based companies participated in the project, including JGA Inc., of Southfield, who served as the designer of record, as well as Illuminating Concepts of Farmington Hills, who were the media and lighting concept consultants. To further flesh out the multimedia experience, Media Projects International of London was brought onboard. In Hong Kong, Gensler International served as architect, while Electronosic handled technology systems development. To put the finishing touches on this ambitious project, Electrosonic brought in Michael Huggins of Light Directions Limited in Hong Kong as lighting consultant.

Dickson Cyber Express is divided into six shopping areas: Entertainment World, showcasing chasing bands of ever-changing colors at the top of the ceiling; E-World, computers and electronics; Kiddy World; Fashion World, which features enormous blocks of color-changing panels; iCosmetic World; and Sports World. The zones, which are physically very separate, each have a different lighting look, derived from the original conceptual design.

In any retail establishment, it's a delicate balancing act between concept and function. "The challenge at Dickson Cyber Express was balancing the fixed lighting with the effects lights--we wanted to have some sort of impact with the effects lighting, but at the same time, you have to have enough light to see what you're doing," notes Lighting Designer Michael Huggins. To further complicate the situation, MRT Station began with a base horizontal light level of 250 lux and generally pale finishes, which increased the ambient light. "In Hong Kong, the ambient light levels in the shops are much, much higher than in America," Huggins notes.

The MTR had other lighting conditions as well. "We couldn't use any cold cathode sources in the MTR because of the fire regulations they had," Huggins remarks. "So we had to look at another source of changing color, and, fortunately, that's how we ended up with the Color Kinetics LED color changers." The Color Kinetics color changers are the instruments behind the impressive color-changing walls outside of Beauty World. For the project, Huggins and his team used literally thousands of the Color Kinetics color changers, all of which had to be addressed and programmed. Enter Steve Rawlins from Martin Lighting (a primary supplier on the project) in Singapore. "Steve was here for nearly two months setting up the system and programming it," adds Huggins.

One of Huggins' favorite areas in the Cyber Express was Kiddy World. "Kiddy World was one of the most effective, because that's where they had the lowest ambient light levels," Huggins explains. "The ceiling was the highest there, and that's the area where lighting had the greatest dramatic impact." It's in Kiddy World that one can see a variety of Martin MX 4s at work, splashing gobos across the floor. "We had a number of Martin MX 4s in Kiddy World," Huggins remarks. "We used child-appropriate gobos there--things like dinosaur feet, ballerinas, frog feet. In fact, Kiddy World worked out very well."

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