Turkmenistan’s Monument of Independence

February 21, 2001

Large architectural lighting projects are not the exclusive domain of North America and Europe as Martin’s recent exotic installation in Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan proves.

For the birthday of the Turkmenbashi - the Turkmenian president - the Turkish government donated a beautiful monument to the city of Ashkhabad, a 122 meter tall Monument of Independence.  “Although what we’ve heard with this project is people saying `Turkmenistan??´ there’s actually no better way to increase an area’s visibility than with a high profile lighting project like this,” explains Martin’s Business Development Manager Harry von den Stemmen. 

Ashkhabad, which means “City of Love”, is the capital of Turkmenistan with around 700,000 inhabitants. Istanbul-based construction company Polimeks A.S. received the turnkey contract, and subcontracted Istanbul Telesine, Martin’s Turkish distributor, for the installation of a sophisticated architectural effects lighting system. Telesine enthusiastically welcomed the momentous project, the first installation of its kind and size in the entire area.

Freelance German LD Harry Gladow, a valuable specialist for Martin Professional in architectural projects, was asked to design the lighting system. He produced a two minute flyover and walk around animation. Three fountains at the base of the monument were also integrated into the lighting scheme. “The big challenge was the distances between the fountains and the base, as well as the 120 meter height of the monument, both from a design perspective and control point of view”, says Harry Gladow. “ I had to make sure that we had enough light on the tall shaft of the monument, particularly where the eagle is situated so I split the lighting plot into four elements: the tip, the shaft, the base of the monument and the fountains. This could only be achieved by using fixtures with optics as we have them in the Exterior 600 and Exterior Compact.”

 In order to achieve full 360° coverage, Gladow placed 12 Exterior 600 Compacts in a 30-meter circle around the base, 12 Exterior 600s on 4 masts to illuminate the shaft, 3 Exterior 600s on the highest platform on the building itself to illuminate the Turkmen Symbol and 9 Exterior 600s on the fountains. A total of 36 fixtures were used and the result was impressive. On the control side, 2 Martin ProSceniums were installed on 2 parallel computers, both equipped with a dial up connection for remote maintenance. In case of a computer failure, the system can simply be switched over.

At this point Harry von den Stemmen, who coordinated the work on the project, decided to involve Enrico Bagnoli, creator of the Martin ProScenium control software. Bagnoli’s vast experience from earlier Martin projects proved invaluable.  He was supported by Telesine’s technical wiz Serdar Bektas and his team, who were required to climb the monument and the lighting towers numerous times.  

Bagnoli had combined the ProScenium with the Martin Show Designer on his laptop to pre-program the majority of the lighting cues. This saved the team a lot of on-site programming work. The lighting was up and running nearly immediately. “This is a good tool for architectural installations because of the sheer size of such projects. Rather than physically moving around a structure, you can see everything in real time on your screen”, stated Bagnoli.

The Exterior 600s were addressed individually with two separate Martin MPBB-1 black boxes, one loaded with Exterior 600 software, the other with Exterior 600 Compact software.

When Bagnoli powered up the system, 1000 on-site workers dropped their tools to watch the dramatic effect. Bathed in color wash, the monument changed from one color to another, base, shaft and tip illuminated in two and three different colors. The fountains were then illuminated in complimentary colors.

Local parameters like sunrise and sunset were programmed, and after two evenings of fine-tuning and modifying the program to the customer’s ideas, the system was set on stand by.  

An opening dedication celebration was held on November 4th with the Turkmen president and his guests enjoying a night full of color and emotion as the new landmark was baptized with Martin lights.