The AMG Performance Centre in Menlyn Pretoria has recently undergone a redesign of its sales showrooms with lighting designed to fit the AMG brand identity. Lighting played a vital role, and Regent Lighting Solutions employed a first-of-its-kind technique to create innovative visual stimulation through light.

First of a kind lighting control for AMG showroomMarco du Plessis, architect at ARCA Unlimited, the architects responsible for the design, explains that the brief called for the existing Mercedes-Benz Lifestyle Centre to receive an interior and exterior upgrade to the new modern luxury standards of Mercedes-Benz, including a new AMG Performance Centre with a public restaurant as part of the extension to the existing building.

ARCA Unlimited is a multidisciplinary South African firm and has provided a variety of built environment services since 1995. Its expertise includes architecture, interior design, brand environments, object design, project management and procurement services. Every project is led by an individual responsible for all aspects of the project (in the case of this AMG project, it was Marco du Plessis).

As lighting would play a key role in the project – in fact, the brief stated that the lighting design should place the emphasis on the vehicles and lifestyle rather than the building itself – the appointed engineer, Barend van den Berg, Ingplan Pretoria, approached Regent Lighting Solutions with the idea of modular switching in linear lighting to achieve the same lighting effects as if a car were driving through a tunnel.

“With a background in automation I immediately thought of incorporating a Programmable Logic Control (PLC) to control the lights,” says Ronald de Lange, electronics and automation engineer at Regent Lighting Solutions. “By using a 24 V dc PLC and 24 V dc LED boards we could signal each board to switch on at the desired time by programming it.”

The project features a number of programmable Linear Minis suspended alongside each other with a customised lighting sequence that is programmed for each linear independently. The fittings are 4000 K LED with lengths ranging from 800 mm to 9800 mm. Other interior fittings supplied include the Viola Pendant 800 mm 25 W LED 4000 K and the Jura 1005 track mounted 36 degree beam 4000 K 40 W LED, adjustable.

The completed lighting design is a first-of-its-kind as PLCs are generally not used in lighting control. “These fittings are showing how powerful lighting control is in terms of effects and visual stimulation and I believe that this is the start of new things to come in terms of mixing industrial and building automation,” says de Lange, pointing out that he is currently busy with a second installation for AMG where they will again be trying something new.

“The power of a PLC is amazing,” he enthuses. “An entire building can be programmed with a PLC system to monitor the power entering the building, monitor the power factor, start a generator and perform a power switchover. Lights can be controlled in different areas of the building via DALI and the DALI controllers can receive signals from the PLC to select different scenes,” he says. Furthermore, with every light connected to a PLC, it is easy to see which fitting has failed and the emergency gear can even be setup to do self-testing. The possibilities are endless.

“Elsewhere in the project, the lighting design is balanced between accent light and ambient light, creating a stage atmosphere in some areas and subtle, general lighting in others,” says du Plessis. The lighting was designed not to impede on the audio-visual displays and to be comfortable during daylight hours and at night. By using energy efficient fittings, the impact on the environment is reduced. Exterior fittings supplied by Regent included the Brite 130 In-Ground 14 W LED 4000 K with a 30 degree beam angle and a 220 V integrated controller, as well as the Shuttle trunion 18 W LED 4000 K wide beam.

“The redesigned sales showrooms of the Mercedes-AMG Performance Centres boast a consistently applied and unique AMG brand identity,” says du Plessis, looking back at the completed project. This sentiment is echoed by de Lange, who concludes, “After being part of this project, I feel that new ideas are not explored and put to the test often enough. At Regent Lighting Solutions we are given the freedom to design and create our ideas, and the finished project at the AMG Performance Centre in Menlyn is testament to what can be achieved by thinking out of the box.”

About the PLC

“The main control method used at AMG is PLC (Programmable Logic Control). PLCs are found most often in Industrial Automation as they are robust components that are used to program machines by sending signals to different parts of the machine telling them what to do, when to do it and how fast to do it,” explains de Lange.

A PLC was the most cost effective control method for achieving the desired effect in the showroom as it operates and sends 24 V dc signals. “By using 24 V dc LED boards we were able to use the PLC signals to provide light,” he says.

Slender lines of light set in an architectural environment are the essence of the Linear Mini, and with its simple elegance and adaptability it accommodates most design applications. The extruded aluminium housing offers a precise in-line appearance that complements open space design plans. Each Linear is split into boards in sections of 100 mm. Each board receives its own signal cable that runs back to the control panel, and this is done to have control of each 100 mm section. The PLC is then programmed to give each board a signal at a specific time. The effect the client wanted was for the light to be a length of ±1 m and flow through the fitting. The direction of the motion and the speed of the pattern is all adjustable, so client can decide on the pattern and change it at any time by programming a new sequence.