In the soft glow of the concealed

The ancient parish church of Maria Assunta, Scena | IT

On a hill that stands like a miniature throne, the ancient parish church of Maria Assunta has watched over the small community of Scena since the twelfth century. At first glance it sometimes appears to be an extension of the significantly larger and newer neighbouring church. Yet the captivating charm of the interior soon means that the unassuming exterior is completely forgotten. Invisible to the eye of most visitors, Lighting Solutions Partner Michael Wolf has discreetly installed a new lighting scheme between the historical frescoes, ornate altars, heavenly angels and sacred statues.

At first glance it sometimes appears to be an extension of the significantly larger and newer neighbouring church. © Jens Ellensohn

The fact that the previous lighting was already 40 years old meant that the proposal to renovate the installation was quickly met with approval - especially as a comprehensive modernisation programme was already well under way.

The real actors in terms of the lighting solution from Zumtobel remain very much in the background. In the altar room, Lighting Solutions Partner Michael Wolf has used the slants of the vaulted ceiling to conceal two luminaire groups featuring a total of eleven SUPERSYSTEM II spotlight heads. This multifunctional lighting tool tastefully showcases the space and helps visitors focus on the ancient architecture. The two small side rooms each contain a single fitting created specially for the parish church, as Wolf worked closely with the architect and Zumtobel to devise a customised free-standing solution made up of SUPERSYSTEM luminaires.

The multifunctional lighting tool tastefully showcases the space and helps visitors focus on the ancient architecture. © Jens Ellensohn

As a specialist for religious sites, you are also responsible for the audio systems, clocks and heating systems. What fascinated you about the lighting?

Michael Wolf: The great thing about lighting is that it is seen by everyone. A lighting solution offers the possibility to create different lighting moods, while also highlighting individual elements of the architecture. Churches require a lot of sensitivity and specialist knowledge. They are mostly very old buildings that are protected as historic monuments. Obviously no luminaires could be mounted on sculptures, paintings or various frescoes displayed in the ancient parish church in Scena.

Wolf worked closely with the architect and Zumtobel to devise a customised free-standing solution made up of SUPERSYSTEM luminaires. © Jens Ellensohn

Most observers will only see the light and not the actual luminaires. How did you achieve this result?

Michael Wolf: The luminaires are organised into two groups and installed to the left and right of the vault. The individual spotlights with the Flood and Spot distributions have been precisely aligned to make sure that the special architectural features of the altar space really come into their own. The main altar contrasts itself clearly from the rest of the church with the help of three individual SUPERSYSTEM II spotlights. The targeted illumination of the altar emphasises the depth of the sculptures and thereby creates an impressive three-dimensional effect. This is the great advantage of SUPERSYSTEM II fittings: they make objects appear incredibly vivid and striking.

The individual spotlights with the Flood and Spot distributions have been precisely aligned to make sure that the special architectural features of the altar space really come into their own. © Jens Ellensohn

You also created your own luminaire with SUPERSYSTEM II spotlights. Why was that?

Michael Wolf: I had already made a sketch for the wall mounting of the SUPERSYSTEM II spotlights, but the frescoes meant that there was no way of positioning the luminaires on the walls. Inspired by the architect, I pursued the idea of making a free-standing product based on my design. In the end we have produced two special luminaires: one with three and one with four spotlights. Thanks to the modular concept, the luminaires can be adapted or extended at any time.

The general lighting and the accent lighting can be switched individually. © Jens Ellensohn

At the beginning you talked about harnessing different light effects. How have you realised these?

Michael Wolf: Both the general lighting and the accent lighting can be switched individually. This allows us to adapt the light mood to suit various occasions and to create different emotions.