Efficient CRAFT LED luminaires from Zumtobel are installed above the training pool inside the Danube Arena.

Time pressure is a fact of life on big lighting projects. But for the new Danube Arena in Budapest, the schedule was extra tight – after a major aquatics event decided to relocate at the last minute.

The state-of-the-art water sports venue on the banks of the River Danube had to be completed in just two years, when the location for the 2017 FINA World Aquatics Championship was unexpectedly changed from Mexico to Hungary.

It includes two full-size swimming pools, a diving pool and a training pool, and can host up to 15,000 spectators. The arena’s lighting was designed by local practice BE LIGHT!, using products from Thorn and Zumtobel, who were involved with the project right from the planning stage. To meet the high standards required for the project – especially the demands of HDTV broadcasting – BE LIGHT! decided that the lighting system for the Danube Arena needed to be LED. In fact, the arena is believed to be the first sports venue in Hungary to be lit predominantly with LED.

Digitally controlled, the Altis LED floodlights from Thorn provide instant lighting and dynamic lighting scenarios.

Zoltan Morvai, CEO of BE LIGHT! said: “A lighting system had to be designed and implemented which both had to meet the requirements of the world-class event and, after the event, had to perform economically in everyday life.”

- Advertisement -

The main pools are illuminated with 280 of Thorn’s Altis LED floodlights, while the training pool uses 200 CRAFT high bays LED from Zumtobel. The entrance and common areas use 569 of Zumtobel’s PERLUCE ceiling luminaires. Altis LED from Thorn features a flexible optical system that can be optimised for different applications, and it is highly controllable, enabling instant light and even dynamic lighting displays. Altis LED’s lightweight, compact design keeps structural costs down.

Zumtobel’s CRAFT high bay LED luminaires unite multiple benefits: starting from a unique thermal management, it combines high resilience with a long service life.

CRAFT high bay LED luminaires unite multiple benefits: starting from a unique thermal management, it combines high resilience with a long service life. The light’s inner workings and appearance have been designed from scratch – this was the only way to make CRAFT achieve its outstanding efficiency level.

Particular challenges for lighting the arena included the requirements for homogeneity on the vertical and horizontal planes, flicker-free light at a specific colour temperature of 5700K to support HD broadcasting, the very high ceilings, and the need for products to be able to resist high ambient temperatures and moisture in the air. Fittings also needed strong chemical resistance for use around the chlorinated pools. The lighting system for the whole arena is digitally controlled, with a total of 15,000 digital addresses – as many as the number of spectators the arena can hold.

Altis LED floodlights from Thorn illuminate the two main pools of the Danube Arena.

Despite the demanding requirements – not to mention the tight deadline – the project has been a big success.

István Zentai, technical director for the FINA World Championships Budapest, said: “The Danube Arena was planned and constructed in a very short timeframe for a particular event. What’s really wonderful is that, in that short time, the team managed to create something that not only performed brilliantly at the World Championships, but that will stand the test of time for decades to come. Lighting is a key part of this. This building shows how light can be the most important building material for architects. The team combined creativity, technology and a lot of hard work to get it just right. They have created something very special, that Budapest can really be proud of.”


General Design: TECTON Architect and Consulting (Béla  Varga, István Fodor, Ákos Pindes,Tamás Ükös)

Architecture: NAPUR Architect (Marcel Ferencz DLA, György Détári DLA)

Interior Design: MCXVI Architects (Gábor Szokolyai)

Electrical Engineering: Provill (Zoltán Ivanics, Attila Nagy)

Lighting Consultant: BE LIGHT! (Zoltán Morvai, Gergely Papp)

General Contractor: Market Építő Zrt.

Electrical Contractor: Vilati Szerelő Zrt.