FIVE Palm Jumeirah: Lighting the jewel in a glass box

FIVE Palm Jumeirah is a visionary beachfront resort, which blends an essence of California cool with Dubai spectacle. With 477 rooms and suites across 16 floors, this luxury hotel features a striking amphitheatre design. In addition, a signature central glass cube and 60 metre vanishing pool add to this distinctive concept. In fact, the hotel houses ten restaurants and nightlife settings, spa, beach pool, kids club and health and wellness areas. We designed internal and external architectural lighting at this resort, which has created a magnificent landmark in Dubai.

Five Palm Jumeirah external lighting

Copyright:FIVE Real Estate Development

The iconic entrance & glass cube

Unlike any other hotel lobby, the FIVE Palm Jumeirah has been designed with a show-stopping iconic entrance. This area has been specifically designed to welcome guests to the spiritual heart of the building. So, it creates a transcendental experience for guests who can experience striking views across the swimming pool, Dubai Marina skyline and oceanic horizons. However, the most striking design element of the project is the glass cube. This area sits at the hotel’s centre, housing an intricate wooden creation, which has been inspired by the Islamic pointed arch and the structure of DNA.

Our brief

Inverse were commissioned to design interior and exterior lighting, which would complement the state-of-the art architecture and interior. The interior concept visuals, in some ways, reflected the essence of the challenge we were faced with. We would need to consider how to illuminate the sculpture to show its three-dimensional qualities. However, could we find a way to do this without exposing the light sources? After all, the sculpture’s innovative design meant that luminaires could not attach to any surface.

Yabu Pushelberg sculpture concept

Copyright: YabuPushelberg

Ideas to consider

Initially, we considered several ideas;
uplighting sculpture columns from the base,

initial lighting concept 1

in-fill lighting concealed within the sculpture,

initial lighting concept 2

lights between the perimeter fins.

initial lighting concept 3

Obstacles to overcome

The omission of the perimeter fins and the complications in concealing lights in the laminated wood structure forced us to discount some ideas. Also, having lights at high level on the structure would have drawn more attention to specific parts of the sculpture. As a result, this would make the structure look more fragmented. However, we wanted to achieve a perception of the iconic sculpture rising from the ground. So, we came up with an innovative solution. We would instead install the luminaires at the bottom of the columns, which would add more depth to the design. However, we would also add in-fill and accent lighting in order to define additional positions on the floor.


Starting the process

In-house, we set up scaled down mock-ups to verify the intended effects.

Lighting mockups

Initially, we set up an arrangement to allow up-lights for every face of the column structure.

detail initial uplighting detail


Then, during the trials, it appeared that positioning the up-lights at the corners of the columns created a more interesting effect. This actually complemented the three-dimensional features of the sculpture and reduced glare by minimising the view to the luminaires.

executed uplighting detail



mockup visual column uplights

We also located additional luminaires at the corners of the sculpture to provide in-fill lighting.

mockup visual in-fill lighting


Then, linear lights concealed to the perimeter of the glass cube provided an overall brightness around the sculpture.

mockup visual linear lights

Stage by stage

After several mock-ups and trials, we took a deliberate decision to illuminate the sculpture with light sources that are below the floor. After all, this would create an effective three-dimensional view of the stunning structure. The result is a beautifully-lit, dramatic object, which has become a centre piece at this luxury hotel.

This section of the sculpture demonstrates one of the strategic lighting effects we achieved; Copyright: FIVE Real Estate Development

It was absolutely critical that we maintained an adequate contract between the sculpture and the exterior landscape so that the glass cube became the main focal point of the whole façade.

Exterior lighting solutions

Our team of architectural lighting designers designed the exterior lighting to be subtle and complement the architecture and landscape. This way, it would please the eye without compromising on the required brightness on the ground. We also added up-lights to the trees along the pool to create a seamless flow. Our team delineated the pool with concealed linear LED light sources on the perimeter, in addition to a minimal number of pool lights. Then, we designed low level skirting lighting to frame the planters to add to the striking effect.

We have concealed the linear light sources on the perimeter of the arch, framing the building with a beautiful glow.


exterior landscape lighting concept, render, actual

From this initial concept sketch, (Left) we produced CGI rendering (Middle), which led to the final, striking result (Right)

Designed by YabuPushelberg, the hotel interiors feature a calming palette of neutral colours working in harmony alongside teal and brushed bronze finishes. Our lighting scheme induces pleasant emotions, creates styles and functions as necessary for visual tasks. Meanwhile, the moody night time scenes create a contrasting atmosphere for guests and residents to enjoy a panorama of breath-taking views.

The results

Our work with FIVE Palm Jumeirah has helped to create a unique experience for the hotel and its residents. After all, we have played an intrinsic part in the architectural lighting for the interior and exterior at this luxury resort. The spectacular results, we have achieved at this particular destination, further demonstrate how we solve unique project demands with precision and panache.

In conclusion

Now we have enhanced the wooden sculpture in the hotel lobby with an innovative architectural lighting system beyond all expectations. Furthermore, our exterior lighting is subtle and elegant in order to add to the appealing aesthetic and draw the eye towards the iconic glass cube and sculpture. In fact, this demonstrates how our architectural lighting design team works so closely on every detail. We always take pride in delivering an incredible service from our comprehensive planning and innovative ideas to thorough testing and creating architectural lighting solutions.

Our team was responsible for the state-of-the-art, exterior lighting on the façade of the Siam Discovery shopping centre in Bangkok and you can read all about it by clicking here.

Cube view with exterior lighting

Copyright: FIVE Real Estate Development

Innovative exterior lighting design at Siam Discovery

In the field of architectural lighting design, we can produce state-of-the-art, exterior lighting solutions for our clients. In fact, when we transformed the facade of the Siam Discovery shopping centre, in Bangkok, we faced a series of challenges.

Siam Discovery Bangkok Façade Exterior Lighting, Copyright art4d magazine-Ketsiree Wongwan

The renovation

Siam Discovery is a six-storey building on Bangkok’s Rama 1 Thoroughfare owned by retail and development company Siam Piwat. They chose to work with Nendo, the prolific Japanese design studio and architect. Nendo has completely remodelled the 40,000 m² mall interior with a number of notable features. For example, visitors now experience a huge display inside with around 200 video monitors, digital signage and merchandise. However, they have also undertaken extensive work on the facade to create a transparent envelope to create a visual link between outside and in.

The brief

At the time, Nendo delivered an intriguing brief. This was to design an intricate exterior lighting solution, which would appear to be hidden from view during the day. However, at night, we would transform the building into a mesmerising light display. This way, passers-by would be drawn to all the activity in the interior in the daytime via the outer glazing layer, featuring white graphics and the transparent portion of the facade. Then, at nighttime, they would experience a visual treat showcasing dynamic exterior lighting. Essentially, this lighting solution would alter the character of the facade from every angle. It would also conteract extreme heat, which is renowned in this tropical climate.

Exterior Façade Lighting visual by Inverse

Visualising the design

Our first challenge would be to create a way in which to showcase our ideas to the client, Siam Piwat, and architect Nendo. We knew we needed to present an element of the facade in a visual format. This way, our client would be able to understand the thought process behind our exterior lighting design. However, Inverse Lighting Design could also see how each intricate element would work together and even highlight any limitations in our plan.


Essential elements to consider

Siam Discovery’s facade design consists of intricate patterns of clear glazing, which feature several variations. As a result, this creates altering views so one area may have clear glazing alone whereas another section will showcase clear glazing, white sticker, frame and solid backdrop. Other variables include clear glazing with white sticker and clear glazing with white sticker and frame, across the facade. We would also need to consider how the view would alter in line with various viewing positions. So, we would be looking at all these aspects in order to produce a fully-functional, innovative exterior lighting design.

Façade Skin Layers

Testing variables

Our team decided to produce a 1:30 model in order to simulate each variable in our studio. This way, we could test various viewing positions of 10 m, 25m and 50m, from different locations with reference to the building position. In this study, we considered daytime appearance, night time appearance without interior lighting and the view at night with interior lighting. We needed to discover how much brightness contrast we would need to make the frames visible or less visible. Also, which colour temperature would we need to use in order to contrast with the interior? In addition, we would consider the impact from various viewing angles and whether we would be able to get the dynamic quality desired.

How we tested these

So, we measured just how bright the frame, sticker, interior and solid wall were. Then, we could learn how much contrast we would require to meet every eventuality. And also, we could find out on which part of the facade we could use these variations. So, we presented the model and our findings to the client.

Precise measurements

Our first experiment using this model enabled us to define the minimum contrast threshold and colour. So, we could choose the right levels then combine these with the viewing angle to create the desired effect. We then created a 1:1 scale version of the design, which we could study in our studio, to refine our concept. As a result, we could work with our client on choosing colours and defining the minimum contrast required. We could also experience the dynamic 3-D effect we wanted to create on the facade. Therefore, we designed a final 1:1 model, where the study was carried out on site. In fact, we could observe all our findings from every study in the actual building. So, this would enable us to design and create a truly effective architectural lighting plan.

Sequence lighting

For special events, we internally illuminated selected frames to allow for the building to produce a more dynamic appearance. We introduced an addressable control system and colour for each of these frames. Therefore, various sequences can be pre-programmed in-line with themes for a particular occasion.

Now, the facade of Siam Discovery creates a spectacular display along the Bangkok skyline where passers-by can experience this incredible pattern of exterior lighting every evening, when the sun goes down. This is just one example of the intricate attention to detail we pay and in-depth studies we produce for every client. This way, we can ensure every project we work on is bespoke so we can meet every lighting expectation.

If you’d like to see more of our luxury exterior lighting projects, simply click the link here.