Sydney Harbour Bridge

Harbour Bridge, Sydney NSW 2000

Re-creating the Sydney Harbour Bridge's Heritage Lighting Scheme Using LED


Sydney Harbour Bridge has achieved iconic status as not only one of the great wonders of engineering but also one of the city’s most trafficked destination. More than 160 000 vehicles and half a million people cross the bridge each day.

Originally designed to create a sense of spectacle and a warm welcome to visitors upon their arrival in one of the world’s most majestic harbours, the bridge was always conceived of being a balance of form and function; it was to be as impressive at evening as it would be during the day whilst always being functional as a transit route.

Restoring the Aesthetic

In 2013, a decision was made to restore the original vision of the bridges’ engineers and thus preserve the cultural significance of the Sydney Harbour Bridge whilst also providing effective lighting for modern day commuters to regulatory standards. Agreement was reached between the owners and managers of the bridge, the RMS (NSW Road and Maritime Services) and, the NSW Heritage Council (as the bridge is a heritage-listed structure) to resurrect the original bronze lanterns that were used to illuminate the bridge and walkways.

The challenge presented to accomplish this task was a unique and multifaceted one.

“First and foremost, Gerard Lighting’s challenge was to create a lighting solution that was both functional and aesthetic while maintaining the existing lighting levels,” explains Kaushal Kapadia, Business Unit Manager for Roadway & Infrastructure, Gerard Lighting. “The new lighting for the roadway, walkway and traffic had to be unobtrusive and hidden from view whilst the heritage lanterns needed to produce a soft glow to recreate the feel of the original bridge. All of this had to be accomplished without being a hindrance to traffic.”


To create the exact lighting effect, as would have been seen in 1932, Gerard Lighting was given a carcass of the orginal Heritage fitting that was used to create a mock-up version. Made of acrylic panels and an LED module, Gerard Lighting customized a double sided 15 Watt LED luminaire to be seated inside each lantern. Producing a soft glow, the LED module is rated as maintenance free for 20 years and operates at a very low power consumption and is ultimately capable of delivering significant energy efficiency.

More Than Just Aesthetics

Gerard Lighting installed their high performance Sylvania StreetLED luminaires with aero screen fittings in the outreaches; the lumianires  require minimal maintenance and are energy efficient. With the original street lights consuming 163 watts per outreach and the new LEDs per outreach now consuming 84 watts, there is an immediate an energy saving of 50%.

The reduced glare allows the general public to focus on the Heritage fitting while furthering the photogenic quality of the bridge. The new lanterns will hang off 140 original outreaches, all located in the exact place as they were when the Bridge was constructed.

New RoadLED LED luminaires are currently being added to each of the light arm structures and will provide functional lighting to AS 1158 standard. The RoadLEDs are currently being rolled out to the on ramp and off ramps of the bridge.

Working Together

The RMS has been tremendously involved throughout the project, ensuring that the new LED lights meet the standards demanded by RMS and the Australian Standards for Road Lighting (AS1158). In addition, Gerard Lighting had to find a way of mounting the appropriate fitting that would achieve this V3 lighting level and hide the new LED streetlights in each outreach. Simply finding a method for this fix was complex as Gerard Lighting was not allowed to drill any holes into the bridge. Rather, they had to clamp or use existing holes within the structure to hang the new lights. There are now four variations of mounting options to cover the different variations between outreaches and the front and rear of each outreach. 

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