The Sheshan Basilica Shanghai China
Lighting Design by Thor D Hjaltason
Thor Daniel Hjaltason was hired by the Mayor of Shanghai as the Chief Engineer/Designer to illuminate the exterior / interior of the famous Sheshan Basilica.
Illumination of The Sheshan Basilica
To guarantee a deadline and finalize the complete illumination of the exterior and interior of the Basilica before the opening ceremony of EXPO 2010 Shanghai. This gave us 3 months from start to finish.
The Basilica is considered a historic relic, and therefore, we could not fasten any lamp or fixture to the exterior with screws or nails.
None of the LED lamps could be visible from the ground from any angle.
The Dome of the tower being 40 meters high had to be lit from a distance.
The entire roof had to be replaced in a short amount of time.
Instruct an entire Chinese team of 50 workers, including all members of the Basilica who did not speak a word in English.
Team up with the most powerful and reputable lighting company in the world that could deliver the best quality LED RGB lamps, Philips Lighting International Netherlands/ Shanghai and Color Kinetics Dallas.
Identify LED RGB Spot lamps with sufficient power that would reach the distance from the ground to the top of the Dome
Design and build aluminum truss to fasten all lamps on the roof of the Basilica.
Test, test, test, test, until optimal results achieved.
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The Sheshan Basilica History
The first church on Sheshan hill was built in 1863. During the Taiping Rebellion, Jesuit missionaries bought a plot of land on the southern slopes of the hill. A derelict Buddhist monastery had stood on the site. The remaining buildings were demolished, and a small building was constructed as living quarters for missionaries, and a small chapel. At the peak of the hill (where the Maitreya hall had stood), a small pavilion was built in which was placed a statue of the Madonna.
In June 1870, unrest in Tianjin led to the burning of churches there. The Shanghai Jesuits prayed at the statue of the Madonna and pledged to build a church to her honour in return for her protection. Subsequently, construction of the church began. Wood was shipped in from Shanghai, and stone bought from Fujian. All material had to be ported to the peak by hand. The church was completed two years later. This first church was in the form of a cross, and incorporated features of both Chinese and Western architecture. A veranda was placed outside the door, with ten columns. Eight stone lions were placed before the church. In 1894, several ancillary buildings were added. These included a chapel halfway down the hill, a shrine to the Sacred Heart, the Virgin Mary, and St. Joseph. Fourteen Stations of the Cross were constructed along the path to the church.
In 1925, the existing church was found to be inadequate, and it lagged far behind other churches in Shanghai in terms of size and ornamentation. The church was demolished and rebuilt. Because the Portuguese priest and architect Ye Zhaochang (叶肇昌) was very stringent about the quality of construction, the whole project took ten years to finish, and the church was completed in 1935.
In 1942, Pope Pius XII ordained the Sheshan Cathedral a minor Basilica. In 1946, the Holy See crowned the statue of Our Lady of Zose at the apex of the tower.
During the Cultural Revolution, Sheshan Cathedral was severely damaged. The stained glass windows of the church, carvings along the Via Dolorosa, the statue atop the bell tower, and various other works of iconography were destroyed.
In the 1950s, Ignatius Kung Pin-Mei the Roman Catholic bishop of Shanghai was arrested and imprisoned for over 30 years and the Chinese government put the basilica under the control of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and Chinese bishops not recognized by the Vatican, and condemned by the papal encyclical Ad Apostolorum principis.
After the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, the damage was gradually repaired. The statue was initially replaced with a simple iron cross, and a replacement statue was installed in 2000.
On May 24, 2008 Pope Benedict XVI announced that he had composed a special prayer for Our Lady of Sheshan.
Articles about Thor's work in China