The Scrovegni Chapel in Padua is an absolute masterpiece of medieval art. Currently a candidate for a place in the UNESCO List of World Heritage sites, the chapel’s interiors host Giotto’s most complete cycle of frescoes. Painted at the peak of his artistic career, these frescoes are, without doubt, his greatest works. The chapel was built at the beginning of the fourteenth century by the wealthy Paduan banker, Enrico Scrovegni, and painted by the Tuscan artist between 1303 and 1305 in a single decorative and iconographical style. The pattern of the cycles’ pictorial narration was determined by the architecture of the chapel, especially the six windows on its southern façade. From the moment the chapel was built, this asymmetrical window design has produced an uneven distribution of sunlight, as the windowed wall enjoys less natural light than the one opposite it. This creates constant changes in the environment’s visual balance and a counterlight effect that troubles visitors. The desire to improve both the visitor’s experience of Giotto’s masterpiece and the management of the previous lighting system has encouraged the ISCR (Higher Institute of Conservation and Restoration) and iGuzzini to develop an innovative lighting system and implement a groundbreaking application of smart lighting to art heritage. The project, conducted in close collaboration with the Photometry Division of the Higher Institute of Conservation and Restoration and supervised by the Interdisciplinary Scientific Commission for the Conservation and Management of the Scrovegni Chapel, has generated a continuous relationship with the Chapel. iGuzzini has also committed to suggesting eventual improvements in the years to come as advances in technology bring about new solutions.
The new IoT lighting system is a “restoration of perception” project that combines LED luminaires, environment sensors and internet protocol software to light the fourteenth century fresco cycle. The installation of Palco COB and Laser Blade luminaires offer a high colour rendering index and a design that blends perfectly with the chapel’s architectural features, as well as immediately guaranteeing a better perception of the frescoes’ colours, especially in terms of the warm tones (yellow-orange-red), which enhance the gold leaf used in the haloes and other features. The system also brings immediate improvements to the already optimal conservation conditions of the painting cycles by zeroing UV and IR emissions to avoid any risk of damage, and achieves energy savings that are 60% more than the previous system.
Using products with Tunable White technology that enables white light tones to be adjusted dynamically as the intensity of natural light varies, means that in a second phase, visitors will be able to see these frescoes more clearly no matter what time of day it is. In an initial phase, sensors designed specifically for the Chapel by WiSense startup, will measure the variations in natural light. Then, once this data has been processed, a dynamic smart lighting system will be installed that will use a specific and highly advanced algorithm to adapt the artificial light to any changes in environmental conditions. This will benefit both the visual experience and the conservation of the paintings, as the artificial light will interact dynamically with the natural light and automatically adjust the colour temperature and intensity to constantly achieve values that offer the best possible viewing conditions. The system operates on an internet protocol developed for sensor nodes and compatible with the worldwide web. So, each sensor node can be reached remotely to view the data measured or to change the settings for a more emotional, true and immersive experience of the magical colours of Giotto’s art.
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