Dezeen Magazine

Croatian designer creates giant light show by illuminating shipyard cranes

Designer Dean Skira has turned eight cranes at one of the world's oldest working shipyards into a giant light show, creating a new tourist attraction in Pula, Croatia (+ slideshow).

Architectural lighting designer Dean Skira lit up the cranes at Uljanik Shipyard with 73 RGB LED spotlights weighing 40kg each, as part of a project called Lighting Giants.

Skira Cranes

"The idea is partly related to the time in my youth spent practicing rowing at a club opposite Uljanik," Skira explained. "Every day I looked at the cranes that dominate the skyline of Pula bay."

Green and yellow lights represent Pula's official colours
Green and yellow lights represent Pula's official colours

First conceived in 2000, the light show made its debut in May 2014 after receiving some private funding and a £32,174 (300,000 HRK) grant from the Croatian Ministry of Tourism.

"When the town authorities started considering relocating the shipyard, I came up with the idea of highlighting them instead," Skira said.

Skira cranes orange and blue

A wi-fi based remote control system allows up to 16,000 different colours to shine on the cranes, while a series of blinds are used to prevent light pollution.

Pula's Lighting Giants display happens every night from 9pm-12am, starting on the hour every hour and lasting for 15 minutes each time.

Skira cranes

"The industrial revolution in the early nineteenth-century has brought us some new monuments, which still stand and move every day in the gentle dance of steel," Skira said.

"This dance has gone on for almost 200 years and I wanted to create a colourful stage in which they perform."

Lighting Giants Blue 2

The cranes are still in everyday use, which meant that Skira had to work with the shipyard's engineers to ensure lighting did not interfere with their regular working activities.

"The challenges were mostly connected to the positioning and focusing of lights, finding the right spot for the lighting fixtures in order to get the desired effect with minimum glare," he told Dezeen.

"Hard work, lots of fine tuning and an excellent collaboration with all the parties involved made this project possible."

Lighting Giants Blue 2

Built in 1856, Uljanik  is one of the oldest shipyards in the world and has since become a focal point of Pula, on the tip of the Istrian peninsula.

"I think the [Lighting Giants] project managed to emphasise this distinctive symbol of the city and celebrate its industrial heritage," Skira noted.

"I hope this project will be interesting for visitors and will help Pula to be more recognisable on the world map."