How important is architectural lighting?
The way lighting can help in enhancing architectural function.
Illumination is an essential component of how we experience and interpret architecture. Regardless of whether buildings and structures are lighted naturally or artificially, lighting is the measure that enables us to witness and enjoy the beauty of the buildings around us.
To achieve a proper balance between lighting and architecture, we need to consider three key areas of architectural lighting: firstly, aesthetics, then function, and finally efficiency. Aesthetics is where designers and architects focus on the emotional impact that the balance between lighting and architecture will have on the occupants. This is where designers determine how they want people to feel when they are in space.
The second aspect, function, which is essential. We want the lighting to look a certain way, but we also need to make sure it’s doing its main job: helping us see. Areas need to be lit so that people feel safe moving through a room or an entire building. They need to be able to see the floor and walls around them, which should create a sense of security.
The last element is crucial in today’s age, where green building and sustainability movements are rampant. We need to ensure that the majority of light reaches its intended purpose and that less light is wasted. By reducing the amount of wasted light, the building’s energy efficiency will be improved. A simple measure to accomplish this is to install LEDs instead of fluorescent lighting.
How light and architecture work together
Before discussing the impact of light and architecture on each other, it is important to know the main categories of buildings and what each is trying to accomplish with lighting. The first group (public buildings) includes stadiums, libraries, hospitals, etc. These types of buildings are more concerned with providing the right amount of light for many types of events. Sporting events such as soccer and baseball require the right amount of light for the players and spectators to have a perfect view of the field. This is also important when spectators are walking to and from their seats and moving around the rest of the arena or stadium. It’s the same concept with libraries and hospitals.
The second group (formal buildings) includes chiefly storage and commercial buildings. Their primary lighting concern is effectiveness. With the high power usage of these buildings, they cannot afford to spend a fortune on lighting and the electricity it consumes. And with the trend of green buildings on the rise, it’s important to have sustainable, energy-efficient lighting.
The third and final group (specialized buildings) comprises museums, theaters and others. Such buildings focus strongly on the ambiance and experiences that they can offer. They concentrate on enhancing the look of the areas and the architectural components. When people visit a theater to see a play or musical, they are expecting an experience before the performance even begins. They want to see a nice chandelier that greets them in the lobby, lavish wall sconces that light up the hallway leading to their seats, and the area around the stage that needs to be lit to showcase statues, pillars and other architectural elements.