Interview with 1st prize winner of CLUE 03 Competition, Andras Dankhazi from Ireland


In March, we announced the winners of the CLUE International Lighting Design Competition Edition 03. The theme this year was ONE FOR LIGHT, LIGHT FOR ALL.

The third edition of CLUE’s lighting design competition was our more successful edition so far. With a grand total of 331 projects from 64 countries, we can claim again this year that it is a record year!

Congratulations to Andras Dankhazi from Ireland who won the First Prize for his project entitled Collective Polyphony. The project aims to restore life at an abandoned oceanic shore in Dublin by planting multiple touch controls to generate light and translate, in real-time the tidal level, temperatures, strength, height of waves and ever-changing seascape. This network of lighting forms a connection between land, sea and people in true polyphony.


Tell me about yourself, your career and your education.

I am an architect living and working in Dublin, a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art/Mackintosh School of Architecture and University College Dublin.

Where does your interest in lighting design come from?

Thinking about light is deeply rooted in the profession of an architect; however, this is my first urban lighting project for a public space.

Why did you choose to participate in the “One for light, light for all” themed CLUE Competition?

I knew the site subject of my entry, Scotsman’s Bay, very well as I used to live quite close to it and I also spent time thinking about how it could be reinvigorated for a university project – without much success coming up with an appropriate brief at the time. It slowly started growing on me what a good approach could be for a difficult site like this without changing its original character. This accumulated over time and the CLUE competition seemed like a good option to test this idea.

Can you share with us your initial idea behind this concept of “Collective Polyphony”? What is the “One for light, light for all” aspect of this project? 

The approach for this lighting project could be described as an environmental recording of the movement of the sea and human bodies in the public space, which is immediately translated to inform the properties of light: making light of the place and people – rather than about – as a translation of intrinsic qualities.

 The project’s aim is to form a bond through the interactive formation of light between land, sea and people using controls operating with uncertainty.


Do you think that your proposal could become a reality? 

As far as I know the technologies to execute the concept already exist. Finding partners to support an unconventional project for the public realm is always a challenge but I hope that the award will help with this.

What were your motivations for Collective Polyphony?

The design had to be suitable for short stays on a temperate oceanic shore and encourage the rediscovery of the abandoned site. The format of having a decentralized network of controls and luminaires scattered over the site seemed suitable for this idea.

Although there is a fascination with new technology in this project, I was cautious not to make the feel of the lighting design too technology-driven when people are interacting with it. I wanted this site-specific installation to be beautiful to use. This led to the choice of exposed circuits where you could add an input into the system as an interpretation of the human body measured as its resistance, a property belonging naturally to us and yet unique to each individual.

However, resistance changes depending on the area of the contacting skin and its moisture. This characteristic of the controls complements the unpredictable nature of light reflecting on the ever-changing body of water. In the end the project has an open-ended setup with a source of ephemeral beauty, like fireworks, that connects you to the place in that given moment.

Please tell us more about the operational aspect of your installation. How does it work? 

The base setting for the lights is derived from maritime data provided by the existing local smart buoy in real time. When the resistance changes in the exposed controls, it further transforms the generation of light. Users of the controls are not entirely in command of the lighting scene: because of its unpredictable nature they have to experiment.

There is a good chance of the controls getting wet in a coastal setting, but until they are wiped clean, basically the rain/moisture interacts with the lighting. I think there is a lot of beauty in that too.

The resulting light distributes in a shallow angle from the elongated concrete fittings placed onto the granite rocks and existing jetties to wash the top of the waves.

How do you see lighting design evolving on a long-term basis?  

I think controlling and interacting with light will continue to become more meaningful, intuitive and sophisticated.

How do you see your professional career evolving? 

I hope that I will continue to have the chance to work on exciting projects in the future in collaboration with talented people. 

CLUE 03 Competition 

In two weeks, we will feature our interview with second prize winners, Mina Saadatfard, Zahra Haghi and Hamid Peyro from Iran.

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