Kate Otten Architects reimagined the Wits Sibanye-Stillwater Innovation Bridge in Johannesburg, a 50-meter-wide pedestrian bridge connecting the University of the Witwatersrand's Braamfontein East and West Campuses. Sponsored by mining giant Sibanye-Stillwater, the project aimed to create a contemporary visual dialogue between old and new.

Regent Lighting Solutions, developed a brand-new lighting element for this iconic pedestrian connector. Starting with a basic, cardboard mock-up profile, fabricated to scale, experiments were conducted with various light sources to determine the output on the light post, as well as the surrounding structures. The designers from Regent, along with the structural engineer from Calibre, were heavily involved in ensuring that the mounting method, fixture intervals, and weight distribution of the additional 366 light elements would not compromise the structural integrity. The design is deceptively simple and attaches to the bridge structure discreetly.

A prototype of a new urban light element was fabricated for testing before large-scale production. The elements, consisting of 4.2-meter-long triangular aluminium extrusions, were assembled and installed within 5 weeks, forming a semi-transparent surface. The design was based on the Wits-100 campaign's color palette, featuring blue and yellow for outer faces and warm charcoal matt for inner surfaces. The triangulated post houses two LED luminaires concealed in sculpted niches within extruded profiles. A blue light at the top illuminates the post, reflecting on its blue and yellow neighbors, creating a blue curtain on the road. A warm golden glow from the carved concave casement illuminates the ground surface for safe night-time passage across the bridge, with residual blue and yellow hints flickering as pedestrians pass by. 

The design process involved a collaborative effort between the architectural firm, client, engineers, and lighting designers, ensuring a diverse range of experiences were considered. The new balustrade serves as a safety barrier, a light installation, and a contemporary architectural gesture, celebrating the university's history and optimism for its future.