The ‘Artwall’

Marina Bay Sands

Integrated Resort




The Marina Bay Sands has been the largest building site in the world - three hotel towers each connected by a top level Sky Garden overlooking a massive structure that houses an exhibition and meetings complex, a theatre complex and a casino - and stretches along the shore of the reclaimed Marina Bay facing Singapore’s CBD skyline.


The resort was designed to open in stages; the three hotels, the exhibition complex and the casino. Numerous artistic architectural features have been integrated into the resort and one of the most prominent is the ‘Artwall’ which comprises the only visible external facade of the casino. The ‘Artwall’ was designed by James Carpenter of James Carpenter Design Associates New York, who in turn, engaged the Renfrew Design Group to assist with the lighting. The ‘Artwall’ Curtain wall was built and installed by Permasteelisa. 


The ‘Artwall’ is a complex and beautiful facade with both an upper and lower register, offset horizontally. 


Overhanging the casino entrance to form a porte cochere, the upper facade is an elaborate curtain wall comprised of light box panels, as well as front illuminated panels, arranged in a sinuous sine wave in plan form. Vertical glass fins complete the upper structure, adding texture.


The lower register is comprised of over 100 six and a half metre high light boxes which are connected together to form a continuous facade which runs the full length of the port cochere. It is this facade that greets every visitor to the casino, providing a great sense of arrival...


The lighting for these panels had very particular requirements. Inside each light box are a number of angled surfaces behind a lightly frosted glass panel. Some surfaces are textured and some are polished (intended to act as reflectors) and all are illuminated from one linear vertical luminaire mounted in the full height of the panel and concealed from direct view on the left hand side of the feature. 


The intended effect was to produce a progressive blending from cool white to blue. Rather like a hologram, the blend line from white to blue would change as the angle of the viewer changed, creating the illusion of movement in the panels. 

Maintenance of the system became an issue as the Artwall would operate 24/7, thus adding complexity to the design.


Numerous techniques were trialled, such as light pipe and high intensity fluorescent, in an attempt to produce the complex grazing side illuminated effect required by the designer. This task was greatly complicated by the fact that the Artwall would remain illuminated during daylight hours and would therefore require an intensity that could overcome the ambient light and yet be modulated at night as the sun set. 


Working closely with Permasteelisa, Illumination Physics devised a custom high powered Linear LED fixture that contained both cool white and royal blue Cree XRE LEDs. The light fixture immediately provided the amount of luminous flux required but focus became the next issue as no single lens angle could provide the progressive blend between white and blue and there was not enough room to install two rows of linear LED product. 


The novel solution involved the use of asymmetric lenses and different mounting angles within a single linear light fixture. Blue and white LEDs were mounted alternately along the long axis of the fixture. The mounting axis of the two colours was offset with a canted mounting plate so that the focus of the white LED was different from the blue LED. Computer modelling offered limited use and the critical angles were determined on site at the Permasteelisa factory in Singapore using numerous physical mock-ups.


With the lighting effect solved, Illumination Physics set to work on the installation, cooling and maintenance issues.


In terms of physical dimensions, the linear lighting would have to match the height of the panel. This was solved by using Illumination Physics’ ‘LINEAR VARIO’ range as the basis for the new custom solution. LINEAR VARIO is a linear fixture that does not use a circuit board to mount the LEDs, therefore the pitch and length can be varied infinitely to suit the installation environment. The LINEAR VARIO solves the long standing fundamental problem with linear LED lighting in which the length of the architectural feature to be lit does not exactly match any combination of the available lengths of the lighting model. For the Artwall, it was possible to limit the types of LINEAR VARIO to just two, to simplify the inventory.


To ensure that the light fixtures would be perfectly aligned, a mounting chassis was developed that would rigidly hold the fixtures in line. The chassis was manufactured by Permasteelisa to Illumination Physics design. The Chassis is adjustable in 3 dimensions so that the focus can be accurately set to overcome any small differences between the panels. In this case, the angles of incident are critical with such shallow grazing wash lighting.


The Chassis also performed a vital role in the thermal management of the lighting system. To prevent the ingress of dust into the panels, they would have to be sealed, so this would severely curtail any convective cooling. A conductive cooling system was devised by using a relatively massive aluminium structure for the chassis that would conduct heat away from the LEDs and dissipate the energy into the panel structure itself.


Maintenance of the light fixtures is possible via a narrow hinged access panel which forms a seamless part of the panel mullions. The drivers are located nearby in the suspended ceiling of the porte cochere.

A Pharos control system was integrated into the overall building management system. The light level of each individual light fixture can be set and various scenes have been created to allow for the differing needs of the diurnal variation in ambient light.


  • 550m+ of illumination Physics LINEAR VARIO customised with offset white and blue leds
  • 297 x illumination Physics LED Driver HP, six channel indoor version

Control system

  • Pharos control system 3 x DMX512 universes and 0-10V scene activation, illumination Physics DD6 WM Pro dmx splitters.