If you thought dragons – those fearsome creatures of myth and legend – only come to life in video games – you’d be mistaken. Allow me to enlighten you.
Every night, a fire-spewing, water-spraying, 568 meter-long dragon, with an 18-meter-wide head and a 19.73 meters wide tail comes to life in Da Nang, a city of one million in central Vietnam.
“The people of Da Nang have a healthy lifestyle,” said Alex Ngian, General Manager of the Lighting Sector for Philips Vietnam. He says they “go to bed early and wake up very early to exercise before they start work – and most people tend to eat their meals at home, which has an impact on the cafes and restaurants in the city.”
In an effort to shore up Da Nang’s night life and enhance its most valuable asset – tourism – the government and Royal Philips collaborated on a two-year project to light three bridges across the Hang River. One of them is the Rong or Dragon Bridge – a 666-meter-long structure designed and shaped like a dragon that Ngian says is now the most popular of the three attractions.
Dragons are a symbol of nobility, power, and immortality in Vietnam. And legend has it that the Vietnamese people are descended from a dragon.
“Each of these installations use the latest LED lighting from Philips,” says Ngian. “We worked together with local lighting designer, ASA, to create the effects of fire throwing and water spraying. The fire and water breathing display was purposely timed to turn on the weekend at 10 pm to attract the community and support some of the local cafes and restaurants.”
LED is an energy efficient lighting technology that emits very little heat. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LED bulbs emit light is a specific direction, thereby reducing the need for reflectors and diffusers that trap light. Incandescent bulbs in comparison release 90% of their energy as heat. LEDs are cheaper, more durable, and consume less electricity.
And they have made the Dragon Bridge a “must see” tourist attraction, says Ngian, with more people taking pictures and visiting the restaurants and eateries in the area.
“Hotels in the area were able to increase their rates for rooms with a ‘Dragon view’,” said Ngian. “The draw of the special effects [has] been very positive. Even on weekdays, you can see people spending time riding or walking across the Dragon Bridge,” he said. “And on weekends, many people go close to the dragon head to see the fire and water breathing.”
Constructing the Dragon Bridge began in mid-2009 as part of a plan to develop Da Nang’s urban transport system across the Han River. It only opened to traffic in 2013, allowing tourists quicker access to the city’s airport and beeches.
Ngian says Philips is proud of the dragon project not only because it beautifies the city, but because it has changed people’s lifestyles and increased their income.