Approaching the O2 World Arena in Berlin is an event in itself. The 380-foot-long, 40-foot-high façade is decked out with more than 280,000 individual LEDs, setting the stage for spectacular events in the multipurpose complex. “You're walking into something that's very high energy,” says Tom Stafford, president of lighting manufacturer LightWild, which supplied the LED technology for the project. “The façade is dynamic, moving, and colorful, and it immediately puts you in the mood for an entertainment event.” One of four concepts presented by architecture firm HOK Sport, LightWild's LED façade best achieved the client's desire for something bold, says HOK Sport principal Gregory Sherlock. “The client wanted to bring the energy from inside the arena to the outside and connect those two together,” Stafford notes. LightWild's proposal did just that while requiring only minor changes to HOK Sport's original design.

But the bold lighting design also had to be environmentally friendly because the client, AEG, and the city of Berlin were conscious of the façade's environmental impact. Illumination studies ensured that the light fell within an acceptable range and didn't negatively impact the surrounding neighborhoods. “We had the ability to decrease the lighting output if it were an issue,” Stafford notes. The façade's most unique aspect, according to Stafford, is that it's not a flat surface: It's built on a 104-degree curve with 117 vertical mullions, angled 9 degrees toward the ground and spaced slightly more than 3 feet apart horizontally. Instead of an aluminum mullion cap, LightWild created an optical lens that seamlessly integrates with the arena's architectural forms.

Inside, the high-energy environment continues as the main lobby features 74,000 individual RGB LEDs mounted behind circular frosted glass lenses along the walls. “When you walk in, light is just all over you,” Stafford says. He also points out that while the LEDs in the lobby can achieve a variety of colors, blue and white often are used as they are the main hues associated with the O2 brand. With approximately 3,900 LED fixtures illuminating the lobby walls, each LED fixture is a little less than 2W each. While LightWild developed initial content, AEG has the ability to create numerous scenes to coincide with the arena's events. Data is communicated from an arena control room to the lobbies via an Ethernet network that transmits DMX signals.

The lighting design's impact starts with the façade—visible from at least a mile away—and continues indoors, adding to the entertainment value of performances and contributing to the increased energy levels of those in attendance.

Project O2 World Arena, Berlin
Client AEG, Berlin
Design Team HOK Sport, Kansas City, Mo. (design architect); JSK Architects, Germany (architect of record)
Photographer Moritz Wade, Germany
Project Size 380-foot-long, 40-foot-high LED façade; 17,000-seat arena
Manufacturer LightWild