Canadian Architect


Moment Factory illuminates Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal

September 13, 2017
by Canadian Architect

Photo credit: Moment Factory

Photo credit: Moment Factory

An iconic architectural feature of the Montreal skyline by day, the Jacques Cartier Bridge now shines by night with an innovative lighting signature that celebrates the unique engineering of its historic structure.

Thanks to intelligent programming connected in real-time to big data and social media networks, this bridge is by most measures the most connected bridge in the world. It comes alive every night and changes constantly, in synch with Montreal’s seasons, weather, traffic and social media activity.

A flagship project for the city’s 375th and Canada’s 150th anniversaries, the illumination of this steel colossus was a major challenge. This project unites the bridge with the city and its citizens by combining civil engineering and large-scale project management with the creativity of Moment Factory and six local design firms: Ambiances Design ProductionsATOMIC3Éclairage Public / OmbragesLucion MédiaRéalisations and UDO Design.

As the sun sets, the bridge awakens, bringing light, movement and data to the structure. Over the course of the night, the bridge uses these features to tell the evolving story of Montreal and its ongoing rhythms. The following morning, as the day breaks, the bridge’s pulse fades into the sunlight, waiting for its next turn to shine.

The energy of Montreal is represented through a subtle play of light on the bridge’s exterior ‘skin’. For 52 minutes each hour, the bridge pulses with the city’s social conversations as tracked on Twitter in real-time. The intensity, speed and density of these light fragments changes depending on how often Montreal-related hashtags are liked and shared. Viewers create a unique coloured spark by sending a Tweet directly to the bridge’s own dedicated hashtag #illuminationMTL.

Photo credit: Moment Factory

Photo credit: Moment Factory

On every hour, at night, short 8-minute animations create a Big Data-driven show that visually translates Montreal’s activity and mood based on different types of daily data: the weather, traffic, news, major events, and more. This changing content makes the bridge a true barometer of Montreal life.

The bridge changes hue with the seasons thanks to a 365-colour calendar. Day after day, the bridge’s ‘heart’ gradually changes from an energizing spring green to a radiant summer orange, a voluptuous fall red, and finally an icy winter blue. Like the forested mountain after which the city is named, the colours change gently with the seasons, the light subtly evokes the passage of time as an enduring artistic expression that reflects its surrounding ecosystem.

With 53 data points in 11 different categories collected every day in real time, the possibilities to mirror Montreal’s energy are infinite.

Photo credit: Moment Factory

Photo credit: Moment Factory

The bridge translates urban big data collected from sensors over the course of the day and updated every hour, into a series of eye-catching data visualizations. Pulling from a wide variety of data sources, including weather, traffic, news and social media, each hourly show is generated in real-time and is totally unique. The ever-changing content makes the Jacques Cartier Bridge a true barometer of Montreal life.

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