Transforming historic entries by 3D printing sustainable street lighting


Urban Scale interventions (USI) is a design agency that supports both public and private organisations in people-centred design innovation. Belfast’s historic ‘entries’ had become forgotten spaces that were being misused, associated with antisocial behaviour and in need of a revival. Commissioned by Belfast City Council to transform the ‘entries’ around the city, USI transformed these spaces by 3D Printing light installations that draw inspiration from and pay tribute to the local history. 


Belfast’s Oldest Tavern, Whites, was chosen as the location for USI’s biggest light installation and showcases the transformation of these outdoor spaces from disused areas to attraction in itself. As the pandemic occurred 3D printing gave USI the ability to control every aspect of the design and production process in-house. Further restrictions meant the tavern was required to seat customers outside and the 3D printed ‘Ocean Orbs’ became a focal point of the Tavern and one of the most photographed areas of the city. 


USI worked with individuals and groups across the city to understand what lighting needed to do for the city. This led to 4 co-designed principles that are sustainable, playful, interactive, and safe. The solution was to create a dynamic lighting piece with a unique soundscape that is inspired by the site’s history as an oyster market. This resulted in 43 3D printed ocean-like floating orbs that change colour in keeping with the soundscape.

 Using FFF 3D printing USI were able to locally manufacture the first zero-waste public installation. USI chose to 3D print the orbs with Translucent PETG by Filamentive. This filament was chosen because of its sustainable qualities. Up to 89% of this filament is made from recycled material that would otherwise end up in landfills. Also for every 1 kg of the material sold, Filamentive will plant a tree to offset at least 1 kg of CO2.



Ralf Alwani, Co-Founder of USI has said that “[3D printing] give people like us who aren’t advanced manufacturing experts an opportunity to get into the process of design-to-manufacture”. The team has experienced many other benefits of 3D printing in architecture including:


  • Increased flexibility to design bespoke components and test prototypes
  • Greater material efficiency
  • Capacity to mas manufacturer in-house with fewer people and at a reduced cost
  • Ability to solve problems quicker by being involved in the project at every stage


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