Christmas: The lights go on in the city streets
What is your own preference where Xmas lights are concerned? Fairy lights, stars or snowflakes, perhaps? The lights are going on all over town for the festive season. And in the wings Citeos teams are hard at work installing these much-awaited decorations.
Christmas lights may be short-lived but the preparations for them continue over the whole year following a well-established timetable. “As early as January, we have already started thinking about what we are going to offer our clients”, explains Philippe Poiret, the project manager at Citeos in Rouen, the VINCI Energies brand for dynamic urban furniture and lighting.
“Towards March-April, we send our clients details of the proposals for decorative lighting we have chosen on the basis of the desired trends. Once we have received a client’s decision at the end of spring, we place orders with our suppliers for the lighting”. Clients, most of whom are local authorities, usually sign three- or four-year contracts with Citeos and are free to change the decorative patterns every year.
The working schedules for the installation teams then need to be organized, keeping to very short lead-times and causing as little disturbance as possible to local residents. “We start the street installation work in November. Throughout the whole of the month of December, we provide a maintenance service, with teams patrolling the municipal areas involved in order to pick up any operational issues”. Once the festive season is over, the lights come back down.
Energy savings and changing technology
“Fashions in decorative lighting do not really change from year to year. But the technology has changed a great deal. We have switched over completely to LED lighting, or Light-Emitting Diodes, which use very little power” explains Philippe Poiret. “LEDS cut power consumption by a factor of between 7 and 10. We also install control cabinets for programming on and off times for the lights. Between midnight and 6 a.m. for example, they are turned off and require no power at all”.
Christmas lights: a touch of fairy dust for towns and cities
Philippe adds: “This a business that is rich and varied both in terms of the people you meet and interesting technical and artistic aspects”. What special pleasures does it hold? “When you go somewhere and you hear people praise your work, it’s a real pleasure! It proves that you haven’t made any mistakes. We can also offer clients innovative decorative lighting schemes. For example, this year we had a really interesting project for Rouen: the client asked us for special animated decorations and our general manager, Jean-Marc Raymond, had an idea for a “wishing tree”. We installed an animated lighting system comprising spotlights capable of dynamic color changes, gobos and other more conventional units around a tree in a pedestrian area. The entire system is controlled by a DMX unit that can synchronize the various scenarios available to the client. Passers-by attach ribbons with their wishes to the fence around the tree. When the animation is triggered, it looks as if their wishes are being sent up into the sky.”
Poetry and fairy dust – two other components that are just as essential to the end-of-year festivities.
Pictures : Citeos Rouen and Citeos Vienne in France, Citeos in Austria and Tecuni in Spain