A unique Christmas story is written in Aalborg. Since November 15th, one of the city’s most popular attractions, Aalborg Zoo, has been transformed after regular closing hours. For the first time ever, one of Denmark’s largest installations of Christmas lighting was implemented in the green garden- a large part developed and delivered by ECO.
How can you decorate a zoo in 3D-designed Christmas lighting that not only lifts the atmosphere and substantiates Aalborg Zoo’s history, but also guarantee LED units that keep energy levels at a minimal so the total electricity costs do not exceed 10.000 kr. throughout the entire Christmas season in 2019? How do you manage the many challenging and at times very creative installations which has not been done before, and how do you distribute the different tasks to meet the deadline before all the lights are lit?
All above requires a skilled, inventive team, a lot of logistic preparation and a dedicated effort from everyone involved. The big Christmas project is unique compared to what ECO normally produce for the professional installer segment, but whether it is energy-efficient industrial lamps or giant luminous reindeers is not that important as long as the light is controlled in the same way. Product Development Manager Peter Ballingwas involved in the project from an eraly stage and he is really proud of the final result:
“We are super proud to get the responsibility in establishing this fantastic set up – organizing, producing and decorating Aalborg Zoo with so much beautiful Christmas lighting – backed up by such talented people. The final result is magnificent! Aalborg Zoo is very happy and all the guests are very excited.”
Challenging and sometimes creative installations
It is not easy to set up installations in an old animal park. How should it all be executed? There are different paths, large trees and animals everywhere, so we had to think innovative and creative along the way. For example, the many lamps on the trees are mounted on laser-cut steel plates (of our own design), and everything can be controlled with a click on the mobile via the connected controllers (ex. a Raspberry Pi). Furthermore, Zigbee controllers also make it possible to control colors, brightness and reduce some of the light in the garden.
We also managed to draw electricity through water and liquid hippo excrements to light up a bunch of flamingos and zebras on the savannah. Its okay to get your hands dirty when all lights illuminate so elegantly at the end. The biggest and most time-consuming installation was the wrapping of the nearly 3 km long Christmas light chain in the large chestnut tree (26.000 lights), which took an installer from NT El Service (now ELCON) four weeks to finish, and it was alle done like the best mountaineers with wires and various safety equipment.
In collaboration with the company IPB Decoration, who designed the finished figures and 3D decorations hanging throughout the garden, ECO and Aalborg Zoo’s own visionary man Lars Jeppesen came up with the overall plans for the beautiful Christmas settings, which includes a path of light with 3 different selfie spots and other fun surprises for the whole family.
A lot of preperation and extensive logistics
It has been a stressful period for Allan Korup, Engineer at Aalborg Zoo, Allan Korup, ever since the project was released this summer, but overall he thinks the process, despite a very tight schedule, was sensible. Almost 900 hours of work just with the regular installations (Erik Fals) in addition to 350 hours of his own time for preperation, purchasing, programming the units and management etc.
A good way to illustrate the size of the installation: The project included 500 meters of rubber cables, approx. 1500 meters of installation cables, over 800 meters of pipes was buried (Construction North), up to 180 outdoor sockets mounted, 16 new electrical panels (built by Strøm Hansen) – incl. new connected controllers, a huge number of aluminum pipes and other installation material along with new WiFi access points distributed throughout the garden.
Christmas lighting provides a record number of guests
CHRISTMAS IN ZOO is a separate event, opened from 4 – 9 in the evening until December 30th – except Christmas Eve.
Expectations was high before the project and they have increased compared to the large number of visitor figures, which indicates that Aalborg Zoo, with the new illuminated Christmas landscape, will set a new record in number of visitors in 2019.
“CHRISTMAS in ZOO has been received with open arms, and we are constantly getting positive feedback from visitors and on social media. ECO and Lars Jeppesen transformed the garden and gave it a whole new story that appeals to both children and adults. Last weekend was the best weekend of the year so far, but we still expect even more visitors as closer we get to Christmas,” says Henrik Johansen, CEO at Aalborg Zoo.
When we talk about marking holidays or anniversaries decorative lighting in all shapes and sizes has come to stay. An increasing number of large cities all over the world are showing more and more interest in decorative lighting, because it is a unique opportunity to add a visual and exciting aspects to sights and other attractions as well as to prolonging seasons and concepts.
Next to the extensive project at Aalborg Zoo, ECO has also sponsored Christmas lighting in the small town of Vestbjerg, we delivered beautiful garlands to Mølleå Arkaden in Aalborg and a couple of luminous Christmas trees for the roof at Fyrtårnet Tommerup in Odense. Now we are just looking forward to an exciting 2020, with big plans already on the drawing board:
“I cannot reveal too much at the moment, but I can only say that we have some incredibly exciting things in the pipwline for 2020, and in addition to Aalborg Zoo, it will be bigger and even more colorful for the next year,” Peter Balling smiles.