5 Catenary Lighting Ideas to Inspire You

Public and commercial outdoor spaces that get used after dark will always require lighting for visibility and safety. This provides an ideal opportunity to come up with catenary lighting ideas that are truly inspiring and unique.

Since catenary lights are usually suspended overhead on tensioned cables, they tend to form a U-shaped curve. But not always – there are also lighting installations that hang vertically or even at seemingly random angles.

The luminaires used in installations can comprise anything from lanterns and Christmas lights to festoons, pendants and LED droplets. The colours available are just about endless.

Catenary light installations can be moved from one location to another without too much difficulty. This makes them great for events, markets, night shows and concerts, as well as for more permanent displays.

Here are some catenary lighting ideas from Australia and overseas that are pretty awe-inspiring (well we think so anyway!)

1. Reflect Light Sculpture, Sydney

Reflect” is a 12-metre high catenary light installation that stretches across the atrium of the 25-storey Arc by Crown apartment building in Clarence Street. It comprises over 2,000 LED lights, supported by 4mm stainless steel cable netting, and 6mm cables that suspend it from the building.

While installing all the elements in such a small space had its challenges, the end result is an illuminated piece that appears to float organically above the space, responding to sound and movement from below.

2. Henley Square, Adelaide

When lit up at night, the catenary lights at Henley Square give off an impression of the night sky, while during the day the cables seem to all but disappear into the atmosphere.

To create the installation, purpose-built canopies were built to support the 4mm cables, some of which are 30 metres long! But thanks to Tensile’s precision engineering, these very long cables do not swing around excessively on windy days like you’d expect.

The great thing about an installation like this is that it enables the public to enjoy the space after dark, without having to endure large poles or posts intruding into the space. And it looks pretty spectacular as well!

5 Catenary Lighting Ideas to Inspire You / Tensile Design & Construct

3. Christmas light display, Baden

Catenary designs are great for seasonal light displays and the Christmas light installation at Baden in Germany is an example.

LED luminaires are mounted on stainless steel tensile cables in a custom arrangement – showing some of the amazing possibilities of catenary lighting. It all looks pretty dazzling!

4. Tavern on the Green, Central Park New York

Tavern on the Green is a famous NY restaurant that goes back a long way, but its catenary light display was only added in 2014.

The spectacular installation, which centres around the tavern’s Crystal Room, comprises 500 mini-chandeliers and lanterns configured to form a circus tent shape.

The project won an architectural lighting award in 2015, and it’s not hard to see why!

5. Abercrombie Lane, Sydney

This playful installation is titled “Augmenting Spatiality” and was chosen as a winning entrant for a Sydney art festival in 2012. It’s made up of around a kilometre of cabling and lighting which runs at all angles down the laneway.

If any installation demonstrates the possibilities of catenary lighting ideas – it would certainly have to be this one!

If you have a unique catenary lighting idea, you’d like to run past us, or you’re looking for what is possible in a space, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch!

5 Catenary Lighting Ideas to Inspire You / Tensile Design & Construct

Free eBook
Tensile Barriers eBook:
Simple materials that enable true innovation

Download free today

Selected Clients