Lighting up an Auckland icon
Whether marking an international disaster or celebrating gay pride - the changing colours of Auckland’s Sky Tower gets people talking.
Last week the landmark building was lit blue for the prostate cancer foundation’s national awareness campaign Blue September.
The colour configuration is one of many different lighting set ups booked into the Sky Tower’s busy schedule. Colour combinations could last for as little as one day or as long as a month.
Usually the Sky Tower’s colour combinations are planned months in advance but sometimes it is changed at short notice to mark major international events, like the French tricolour for the 2015 Paris attacks.
The public are welcome to make a formal request to have the Sky Tower lit in support of a special cause or event.
SkyCity senior rigging and grounds supervisor Paul Novella, who has been involved with the lighting at SkyCity for more than nine years, says for short notice jobs only the LED lighting on the top section was changed. This could be done in about five minutes using computer software.
But changing the colour of the entire tower was a much more involved process, taking up to three hours.
A full colour change requires 48 lights to be replaced on four separate light stacks at the base of the tower.
Different colour bulbs are installed and coloured silicon sheets cut and placed over the lamps.
The base lights use 1000 watt energy saving light bulbs, which cost about $80 each and illuminate the tower’s shaft and pod section.
The top section and antenna mast are lit by 25 LED lights staggered in five bands over the length of the mast.
The lights are programmed to switch on at sunset and off at sunrise and will soon be adjusted for daylight savings.
‘‘When we did it the first time there was nothing but reviews,’’ Novella says.
There are five workers in the lighting team and being comfortable at heights is a necessity for the job.
‘‘You need to have a pretty good head on your shoulders.’’
During the 2011 Rugby World Cup the tower’s colour changed on a daily basis depending on which nations were playing. rave
SkyCity’s rigging team change the Sky Tower lights to blue for Prostate Cancer Awareness Week.