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Vietnam – A new splendour for Hue Imperial City


Appointed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993, Hue Imperial City is the most popular and ancient architectural monumental site in the center of Vietnam, attracting millions of tourists every year. The foundation of the Hue Citadel began in 1804 under the reign of Emperor Gia Long and was completed in 1832 by Emperor Ming Mang. After consulting geomancers to choose the best place for the construction of  the citadel, the Emperor ordered the initial building of a 10 km long wall with an adjacent moat. Facing the Huong River, the Citadel included also the Emperor’s Palace, built close to the river and fitted with a second set of walls and moats for further protection. 
 
Many more palaces, gates, courtyards and gardens were subsequently added to the main block creating the final citadel layout. During the years it suffered from termites, humidity and cyclones damages and in 1968 it was attacked by the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong soldiers. During the initial phase of the “Battle of Hue”, Allied forces were ordered not to shell the city owing to its religious and cultural status but the following earth battles and skirmishes caused major damages to the Imperial City. The buildings that still remain have been restored many times and a large preservation plan has been recently finalized by Hue Monuments Conservation Center. Since its foundation in 1982, Hue Monuments Conservation Center has made outstanding achievements, restoring and maintaining most of the Citadel’s relics with the help of  traditional handicrafts masters.
 
From an architectural point of view, Hue Citadel is divided into two main parts: the Royal Citadel and the Forbidden Citadel. The Royal Citadel is located in the middle of the site and with its Royal Palace is considered as the sacred place of Vietnam’s feudalism and the centre of the Emperor’s cult. Four entrance gates allow access to the Royal Citadel, whereas the Noon Gate used to be reserved exclusively to the Emperor. Outstanding for its artistic features and imposing architectural presence, Ngo Mon gate allows access to the Thai Hoa Palace where various grand ceremonies used were usually set up. Located inside the Imperial City behind the Throne Palace, the Forbidden Citadel was reserved exclusively to the Emperor and his family and includes 50 buildings of different sizes and 7 gates.
 
Facing the South, Ngo Mon is the biggest among the four main gates of Hue Imperial City. Built in 1833 under Minh Mang emperor's reign, Ngo Mon gate is considered an architecturally precious shrine of the many cultural and religious relics of this World Heritage site. Before the recent renovation, Ngo Mon gate was equipped with a traditional warm white metal halide lamp lighting system, which was not capable of enhancing its aesthetic elements at their best nor to fully reveal the artistc complexity of its traditional Vietnamese architectural features. Moreover, maintenance and power consumption costs were of course considerably high. 
 
Within a major restoration project, the renewal of the lighting system at Ngo Mon Gate was completed in Spring 2015 in order to let the beauty of the ancient construction shine at night while complying with the energy saving and sustainability requirements of the site. The project has been fulfilled by PhuThanh JSC- Hanoi, leading company in the installation of LED technology in Vietnam and was completed by the end of April on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Vietnam union and independence.    
 
According to the lighting needs expressed by the company in charge of the project, PhuThanh JSC- Hanoi, GRIVEN lighting design department put together a first draft of the installation scheme, choosing the right fixtures to reach the required effect. A strong contrast between the upper and lower part of the gate should be represented by a passage between warm and cold white shades. Yellow, along with all the warm tones of gold, represents the colour of the emperor, a symbol of a high social status but  it is also the color of Buddhism, positivity, life, sun, harvest and joy. White, on the contrary, is the colour of death, mourning and dead cult but it also means pureness and innocence.
 
In order to achieve a beautiful, intensive golden shade on the upper part of the roof, a custom amber colour configuration was chosen for the compact sized spotlight units installed on the whole perimeter of the gate roof. Owing to their small bodies, a total of 84 units of Micro-Clip MK2 in amber with extra wide or wide optics along with 28 Jade 9 Easy Amber with extra wide optics have been easily mounted on the upper cornice of the gate in order to deliver a pleasant spot lighting scheme. The same appealing pattern is repeated also on the canopy, which completes the lower part of the roof with further 99 Micro-Clip MK2 units in amber colour fitted with either extra wide or medium optics for an optimal light distribution. To complete the elevated part of the structure with a strong light contrast, 52 units of Micro-Clip MK2, in cold white and with narrow optics, were used to highlight the wooden columns that support the canopy all around the gate. This creates a strong contrast between the central part of the gate, light and empty that rises from the massive lower bastion in order to support with its fragile essence the whole upper part of the structure.
 
For the lower part of the structure, a rough bearing wall, a cold white configuration was chosen to fully contrast with the splendour of the golden upper part, interrupted only by the warm shades washing the entrance doors. To reach this striking effect, 78 Parade S-W-20 Recessed in cold white equipped with wall wash optics have been embedded in front of the wall to wash it up with a uniform splash of cold white light. In correspondence with the three front doors, 22 pieces of the same Parade Recessed but in warm white configuration have been installed in order to achieve the required contrast.
 
Now the main entrance gate of Hue shines as never before to celebrate the past glory of the Imperial City.
 
 
Products installed:
147 x AL2219 Micro-Clip MK2 Amber extra wide optics
  20 x AL2221 Micro-Clip MK2 Amber wide optics
  28 x AL3454 EW WW Jade 9 Easy Amber Extra wide optics
  16 x AL2220 Micro-Clip MK2 Amber medium optics
  52 x AL2224 Micro-Clip MK2 Cold White narrow optics
    2 x AL2219 Micro-Clip MK2 Warm White Extra wide optics
  78 x AL3544 Parade S-W-20 Recessed cold white wall wash
  22 x AL3549 Parade S-W-20 Recessed warm white wall wash
 
 
Credits:
Design and installation: PhuThanh JSC- Hanoi
Pictures : PhuThanh JSC- Hanoi 

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