‘Balloon’ light retrofit project lifts soccer even higher

June 23, 2021
Balloon-shaped luminaries, designed with air cushion construction using conventional lamp technology, reduce maintenance for the LED retrofit project.

CHALLENGE: Retrofit the unusual area lights of the parking lot of Munich’s Allianz Arena to LED to match new fixtures which would be installed on the complex’s esplanade.

INFLUENCE: The extensive stadium entrance area is lined by 16 oversized balloon lights co-created by the project’s architect Herzog & de Meuron, and Zumtobel. The unusual lighting solution transcends the aesthetic, as it also serves as an orientation system that should also provide improved safety during the games thanks to a brighter, and more even illumination of the esplanade. The exterior shape of the balloon luminaires--designed as an air cushion construction and using conventional lamp technology--was to be maintained for the new specific lighting solution, while at the same time reducing maintenance requirements through state-of-the-art LED technology, and a balloon envelope made of solid material. 

SOLUTION: The balloon shape, especially in its own dimension of six meters and at a height of 18 meters above ground, places great demands on lighting technology. In order to be able to slide the balloon envelope onto the pole, the control electronics have to be installed directly at the pole so that the distance between the light sources and the envelope varied greatly. In the areas near to the pole, with a minimal distance between the envelope and the LED light source, the density of the individual LEDs installed was the highest in order to achieve maximum evenness; at the same time, the greatest luminous flux was required in the middle of the balloon. The space between and the dimming level of the light points had to be calculated and laid out individually for each mounting point. The solution was a helix of LED strips. 

The light pole of a total height of 18 meters was custom-made to pick up on the design language of the balloon. The “balloon” is made of solid plastic and offers high transmittance and great diffusivity. Consequently, the light is highly scattered, and even in the narrow areas at the pole side mounting, the individual LED points, arranged directly around the pole, are perfectly resolved. The light pole, which continues inside the balloon after twelve meters to hold the envelope at its highest point, remains concealed to the viewer.

The aim, from a lighting perspective, was to achieve absolutely homogeneous illumination. To this end, additional installations were used to extend the new lighting concept in terms of area along with enhancing the lighting technology.  “Modern and elegant, these lights fit in perfectly with the landscaping of the esplanade. The aesthetic created in combination with the outer façade showcases the overall architectural work of the arena,” says Allianz Arena Managing Director Jürgen Muth. 


Project Specs
Allianz Arena, Munich
Architecture: Herzog & de Meuron
Photography: Faruk Pinjo. © Zumtobel Group
Lighting: Zumtobel Custom Balloon LED Area Fixtures

This article was originally published online with the title "‘Balloon’ Lights Lift Soccer Even Higher."
This article originally appeared in the March 2022 issue of Architectural SSL.

About the Author

Architectural SSL staff

In January 2024, Architectural SSL evolved to LightSPEC. While the name changed, the editorial focus -- writing and developing audience-first content about architectural lighting in the built environment for architects, interior designers, lighting designers and manufacturers, and specifiers of commercial and residential lighting and controls -- remains the same.

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