Bespoke urban lighting solution to create a thriving community space

With an increasing population, the city is Antwerp is regenerating districts to reconquer space for citizens and create a new style of urban living. 

The area around the city’s opera house has recently undergone a complete redevelopment to transform the neighbourhood into a vibrant, sustainable cultural destination for visitors and residents.

The redesign by the Spanish architect Manuel de Solà-Morales directs traffic into a new underground tunnel so that the city could reconquer part of the busy Leien Boulevard and create a 10,000m² pedestrianised plaza with a tramway, bike path and new metro station to promote greener mobility.

Lighting as a unique feature

For this new plaza, which offers great views of the beautiful architecture of the Meir - Antwerp’s main shopping area - Central Station and the Opera House, Manuel de Solà-Morales envisioned a unique lighting structure. He imagined a work of art that would provide a stunning backdrop and make walking in the area that little bit more special. 

Schréder was entrusted with the task of achieving this vision while meeting performance requirements in an efficient manner.

Bespoke urban light trees

After consultations with all of the parties involved in the project, our Schréder SIGNATURE division, designed 8 bespoke light trees to 

  • guide people in safety 
  • create a strong visual identity
  • encourage the community to stay longer and appreciate the space. 

These elegant structures belie the immense technical infrastructure required to realise them. At 12m tall, the central column of each light tree supports five different custom-engineered projectors with a 2.2m outreach. 

Sustainable urban lighting structures 

Each of the custom-engineered branches of the light trees integrates 35 warm white LEDs (3000K). They have been carefully positioned to direct the light only where it is needed, eliminating any light spill. They create a warm welcoming atmosphere with a low energy consumption (315W), perfectly in line with the city’s sustainability criteria. 



City of Antwerp

The transformation of Operaplein is not only beautiful by day and night but it has also triggered all sorts of regeneration. The lighting has definitely provided the perfect opportunity to allow people to explore and enjoy the area around the city’s opera at night.

Kristof Peeters - Head of Public Lighting - City of Antwerp
Kristof Peeters
Head of Public Lighting - City of Antwerp

Commanding presence

We paid careful attention to the location of each light tree. They have been specifically installed at strategic settings to create a v-shape towards the Opera House. This installation not only ensures a uniform lighting, with no dark zones throughout the plaza but also draws attention to the Opera House, enhancing its nocturnal presence and gently guiding people to the main attraction when the sun sets.  

A nod to the city’s character  

The central column of each tree is painted in “Antwerp City Gray”, a dark grey with a hint of green, in a nod to the architecture throughout the area while the branches are painted in the same shade of red as the canopy on the square. 

This creates a contemporary and striking work of art, brightening this bustling square during the day and night. 

We place such a huge emphasis on delivering projects of the highest quality. It was a real pleasure to work on this bespoke solution which has turned created a public space where people can really enjoy themselves.

Stefan Vinken - Engineer - Schréder BE
Stefan Vinken
Engineer - Schréder BE

Installed in June 2018, the light trees have certainly started plenty of conversations amongst residents and visitors, amused to see these original structures! 

They have also without a doubt contributed to turning this old traffic-heavy boulevard into an exemplary urban public space that is already well used both by day and by night. Indeed, the city is delighted as it has achieved its goal of creating a vibrant and sustainable community space