The last bit of coal rolled out of the Duhamel mineshaft in June 2012, ending the Saarland region's 250-year history of mining. A lookout designed by Pfeiffer Sachse Architekten that sits atop the mining heap and overlooks the town of Ensdorf honors this tradition. The lighting design, carried out by Lichtvision, is an integral part of the accessible landmark.
As described in a Building of the Week feature at German-Architects, the architects wanted their competition-winning design to express the change from mining to post-mining while also referring directly to mining operations. Therefore steel was the obvious choice for the structure, which is made up of two stairs connected by an overhead walkway that create a sharp-lined "S" in plan.
Positioned atop the artificial mound that was built up over the centuries, the nearly 30-meter-tall structure looks like it is an extension of subterranean shafts. With its zigzag form, the steel sculpture's references change depending on one's position: a gateway, a winding tower, or even an abstracted hammer and pick.
According to Lichtvision, "While at daytime the pure outer form of the landmark dominates, the inner geometry of the passage emerges at night thanks to the lighting." Lines of LED are recessed at the top of the solid balustrades, shining down to illuminate the walking surfaces of the stairs and landings. Yet by casting a fairly even glow upon the steel guardrails, the LEDs "paint" staggered lines of white light that ascend and descend the sculpture's diagonal supports.
Lichtvision's lighting design is an invitation to climb up to the lookout, where the intensity of the illumination was lowered to shift the focus to the view. Here, LEDs are found at the underside of the benches, hidden like the lines of lights at the stairs. Considerations of low maintenance, simple installation, minimal cabling, protection from the elements and reduction of plugged components went into Lichtvision's design and led them to Insta's LEDLUX linear light. As installed the fixtures disappear, leaving the light they produce as – alongside the steel – one of the sculpture's two primary "materials."