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Since its grand opening, The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel has continued to attract an unprecedented number of visitors, with 170,000 visitors in the first weekend alone. It is the largest single-structure hotel in Asia and the second largest in the world. The Venetian features meeting, convention and exhibition space, 3,000 all-suite guest rooms, and one million square feet (92,903 sq. m) of retail space, as well as a 15,000-seat Venetian Arena with variable lighting environment for different events, thanks to the Lutron GRAFIK Eye® 4000 light control system.
The construction is based on an artificial piece of land, built on the sea, joining two highlands, Taipa and Colon. Teams of designers, engineers, and architects were chosen to organize the vast amount of work: HKS in Texas (U.S.A.), Aedas in Hong Kong, and Wilson Associates managed the interior decoration, while Artikel was in charge of retail design. Fisher Marantz Stone (FMS) from the U.S. was the only lighting design company selected.
The opulent spaces feature Italianate interiors with extensive lighting accentuating the architecture. The retail area, a replication of Venice’s Saint Mark’s Square is served by three canals including gondolas (with singing gondoliers) and bridged pathways with elegant decorative lanterns and a spectacular sky ceiling illuminated by indirect metal halide, fluorescent, and LED fixtures in a continuous 2km “horizon” cove. The site is surrounded by a fantastic glowing lagoon, which is faithful to the real Venice landscape.
Built on an impressive scale, the real impact of the resort lies in the design of its massive spectacular exterior, which is matched by an equally breathtakingly opulent interior. Replicating the beauty of Renaissance Venice with ornate moldings and lavish decoration, the interior also features a ‘piazza’ in the Venetian style. Architectural canals, gondolas, and singing gondoliers under a painted blue sky all add to the charm of the experience. The overall design theme is “East meets West” creating a timeless marriage of Italian and Chinese styles. The hotel designers incorporated the best in marbles, exotic wood veneers, custom art & accessories and inspired “chinoiserie” murals, which add to the overall ambiance. Color schemes were developed around the symbolism of the space to adhere to the Feng Shui rules conveyed by the client. The themes were derived from various elements of the Chinese culture to produce a rich and inspiring atmosphere.
As Wilson Associates explained, “A fascinating aspect about this project is that it truly was a 24 hour project. There was never a moment of the day that the site wasn’t being developed.” From the signature colonnade upon entry to the signature gold and blue luxury suites and the four individually themed casinos, each space possesses a distinct design treatment that seamlessly blends together to create a once in a lifetime experience.
“The lighting of the Venetian in Macao was very interesting and challenging,” comments Charles Stone, president of FMS. “It is one huge project that encompasses a number of big projects. In designing the light, we considered retail spaces, rooms, resorts, arena, and the reproduction of an outdoor environment. The concept is the same as that of the Las Vegas Venetian Hotel, with the difference being that the one in Macao is much bigger and grander.”
The workload was separated amongst the different teams, and photos of Venice, Italy, were observed in order to encourage the teams to think about the Italian atmosphere and recreate it through the use of many types of light. FMS designed the public lighting for the entire project, dividing the work into four main themes: retail with its 1km walk across bridges and along streets and the canal, rooms, casinos, exhibition center, conference center, and finally an arena as large as Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Each area has its own specific lighting, e.g., St. Marco Square is like a cyclorama in the theater: the cloud-painted ceiling, the houses with windows made of light boxes, and the lanterns create a very romantic atmosphere. “The effect creates a suspension of disbelief, although you might feel uncomfortable that it is a reproduction of Venice, the result is stunning.” notes Stone. The same principle is applied as that of the theatre: the entire exterior of the square is very surreal, with each detail clearly reproduced, but – as on stage – the tricks are hidden. “There are many variations of lighting fixtures. We tried to give the illusion that an entire kilometer of retail was completely lit, but we actually only used a few fittings which were placed strategically. Downlights, incandescent lightings, and LED’s are used to create a diffuse lighting, which welcomes the visitors into a Venetian atmosphere. LED and ceramic metal halide combine with linear fluorescents in the towers to provide wonderful brightness,” explains Stone.
The square is spectacular and full of surprises. The layers of lighting reproduce the effect of depth and enhance the visitor’s illusion. “The 1km long retail walk was a technical challenge. The buildings were completed visually with the use of carefully detailed light boxes to create the illusion of inhabited rooms behind all the windows. It is really magic to see all the variations along the facades. Neri and Targetti manufactured the light fittings along the Canal, and the
GRAFIK 5000™ lighting control system is used in St. Marco Square to present different levels of light, with the ability to create the desired blue sky effect at any time of day. In the Casino area, incandescent MR16 lights were applied (as required by the gaming laws), while the Lutron GRAFIK 7000™ system is in place to light the games.