Ottawa’s Parliamentary Precinct by Lemay

A jewel in the night

Project Specs


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Appreciation towards Lemay for providing the following description:


The Parliamentary Precinct, which includes, the Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the commercial Sparks Street, and the Confederation Boulevard, will be brought to light by an Exterior Lighting Master Plan, developed by Lemay and Lightemotion on behalf of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC). The Plan will enrich and enhance the experience of night time pedestrians over the coming years. To be implemented gradually on a project by project basis as opportunities arise, the Master Plan provides guidance to PSPC when implementing exterior lighting for the Precinct’s buildings and grounds.



Drawing its inspiration from the image of a diamond, the “Jewels in the Night” concept combines frontal and detail lighting to give the impression that the illuminations are outlined against a black sky. In certain locations, the play of shadow and light will bring out the dramatic and mysterious aspects of the Gothic Revival buildings on Parliament Hill, thus emphasizing the contrasts and the tensions in the landscape in the chiaroscuro style. Distributed according to four hierarchical levels of light, the illumination will reveal and reinforce the comparative prominence of the various buildings in the Parliamentary Precinct.

The main objective of this lighting master plan is to tell a story and offer night time pedestrians a stimulating view that contrasts from the one offered by day. Thus, certain areas have subdued lighting to set off the bright jewels of Parliament Hill. Other areas seek to show respect for the natural or heritage aspects of the site. Imagine a walk through the illuminated Parliamentary Precinct, where light reveals the unique heritage character elements of each building while inviting visitors to discover and explore the site’s landscape. At the end of the walk, the climax of the show will be revealed on the Peace Tower and the Parliamentary Library, with a luminous, dynamic but subtle display that suggests the beating of the nation’s heart.





The vision
The vision developed for the Lighting Plan aims to enrich and enhance the night-time experience of the symbolic, environmental and heritage primacy of the site. Fourteen guiding principles developed by the landscape architects, support this vision: respect, symbolic primacy, security and accessibility, preserving the heritage, adaptability, creativity and innovation, operations, stewardship, partnerships, hierarchy, viewing points, the visitor experience, sustainable development and balance.

The artistic and technological revolution in lighting
With the evolution of the lighting industry, the Parliamentary Precinct will benefit from an artistic vision to create a unique night time experience, and tell a story. Moreover, LED technology offers the opportunity to produce unique, high quality backdrops at low cost, controlled by computers via a DMX system. As a result, illumination will be balanced throughout the implementation of the numerous projects, so that the hierarchy within the Precinct remains obvious at all times.




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