To animate and enhance user engagement in the evening, a 1km section of Bloor Street in Yorkville was in need of a unique solution to resolve an absence of street furniture and lack of quality, engaging lighting. The existing tree uplighting power infrastructure had to be used to avoid expensive and time consuming re-circuiting and sidewalk modification, and so the locations were fixed.

A large-scale interactive lighting installation was proposed that cleverly combines place making with colourful programmable lighting in a custom piece now known as “The Firepit Bench”.  The idea of a bench in an urban environment wrapping the trees came to mind literally while sitting around a fire, and the thought was, what if this celebration of light could be experienced on the street?

The lighting combines an ambient light created by a soft, linear LED wrapping inside the bench, with sparkle light created by small LED floods (with the optics removed) exposing the LED diode. A sharp point source is created that interacts with the patterns in the laser cut metal – the “gobo” effect.  When users touch the fire emblem on the bench to “start the fire” they are greeted with a warm dance of light.

The entire bench installation uses less energy than the original tree in grounds. A ’never-been-done-before’ approach accomplished the installation without the need for additional infrastructure cabling and cumbersome wireless technologies. Ingenious standalone controllers in each bench are connected by a head end controller at a series of panels in nearby buildings that sends control triggers over existing power lines.

This engaging and inviting installation interacts with pedestrians and weaves seamlessly into the existing streetscape, adding color and excitement.  A magical place to sit, be warmed and entertained by the light, and feel connected to the streetlife.