• What are the elements of lighting design & what should come to mind when lighting in architecture is mentioned? Indispensables of good lighting?
Lighting connects all things within any space. It generates the shape, gives form, creates shadows and ultimately provides ambiance and sets the mood. The best lighting usually does not stand out, but rather lets the architecture take the center stage. From an elemental stand point, good lighting is soft, comfortable, and enriching or enlivening. It is not harsh, glary, stark nor unnerving. Experiences that exist in nature should come to mind, such as the spectacle of seeing the shadows of trees along a path in the woods..
• Lighting is an effective component for converging or diverging the focus to a desired point. How does it contribute to architecture in this aspect?
Light is naturally informative. In design, playing with light and dark, i.e. ‘contrast’, using bright or soft or colored sources, and placing light sources with specific regularity or with breaks in the pattern would each direct the eye and the occupant both physically and psychologically.
• Interior or exterior lighting, showcase lighting, street lighting, highway lighting etc. How should lighting be handled in each of these diverse areas? What should be the common ground?
All lighting needs to follow similar fundamentals of providing appropriate light levels for the task, provide light in a comfortable manner without glare, and make the occupant feel good. Feeling good can be translated as feel safe, if outside, or comfortable, if inside.
Street lighting and highway lighting are fairly specialized and a field which BEAM does not specialize in. However, in the work we have performed, we tend to follow industry design standards, for the brightness, contrast ratios, spacing, etc. but we work hard to make sure that the visible fixture itself and its placement is aesthetically pleasing during the day as well as the night.
Showcase lighting is also very specialized in that it must be handled in such a way to ensure that the items being highlighted standout from the surrounding environment. This can mean different color light sources, brighter or even darker light levels, as well as being placed within a space to provide maximum visibility.
• When & how should lighting be handled in new buildings? How does the purpose of usage of the building effect and diversify the lighting projects?
New buildings allow for a bit more integration of the lighting into the architecture. At BEAM, our goal has always been to supplement and accentuate the architecture while illuminating a space dynamically and comfortably. Additionally, the budget can be managed a bit more on new construction so that this integration can be handled more easily. Finally, control of the light is much easier in new construction in that usually control systems are installed today to handle every aspect of the building, so we can better integrate the lighting controls with this system to work with the building. This can mean more integration with daylighting as well as energy management, etc.
Most building types have a specific usage. Each defined usage requires a specific amount of light, as well might need to be handled with certain care or special attention. For instance, a lobby requires a certain level of light to balance the daylight outside, while also paying attention to the evening requirements. Hallways might need to be darker or brighter based on corporate image if it’s an office building, or brighter if it’s a hospital or courthouse. So, the spaces dictate to some degree the practical needs or goals for the lighting. However, the design needs are somewhat intangible based on the tenant or owner and the image that they are trying to convey.
• Lighting is an area in which design included the most and consequently lots of different products are being presented. Being part of decoration as well, how should the right lighting element be selected or is it being selected?
Picking decorative fixtures is part science and part art. Ultimately whatever is chosen needs to provide great light as well as fit aesthetically within the space. Sometimes this is impossible, and something is selected because it looks great, but supplemental lighting is worked into the design to ensure the space is lighted well. Overall from an aesthetic point of view, this is not about the lighting designer. It’s something that must suit the architecture of the space, and ultimately be something that the owner will love for years to come. Once the designers are finished with the project they are gone. We like to make sure whatever is selected will work physically as well as aesthetically into the future.
• How technologies are being used in project development or measurement to achieve lighting value goals in project?
Today technology drives design in many aspects of building and this is true for lighting. However, due to the ever changing nature of the technology, whatever is used must be well vetted and suited to last. Just going with the latest and greatest is not the ideal way of handling a project. Illumination is vital and above all else, the lighting needs to always work.
We have embraced LED technology in a strong way because we know that it can minimize energy use and maintenance over time. However, we work hard to select LED fixtures that will provide the best quality of light, at the right light levels, not
something that will simply last forever and be cheap to operate. So ultimately, we choose design and practical use first, then find the technology that will fill the bill.
• Is exterior lighting more difficult than interior? Are there variety of solutions for exterior lighting as same as interior?
Interesting question… Exterior may be more technically challenging because the fixture is the only light source, typically. Whereas with interior lighting there is a certain amount of light bouncing around a space so the architecture plays a bigger role. Since light is only visible if it falls on something, exterior lighting has a lot of voids where light is not visible. So, placement of the source is critically important so that it can put light where its needed and illuminate the things that need to be lighted. Also, exterior light requires less light overall to make an impact. Consider a flashlight outside on a dark night and how much impact it has. So, more care must be taken with exterior light.
Overall there are probably more choices for interior lighting than exterior due to its ease of integration with the architecture and the ability to consider and utilize the light which naturally bounces around a space. Exterior light might bounce off the surface of the ground or off a building or tree, but it does so with minimal impact of its surroundings. However, if the façade of a building has surface mounted lights which project, this can affect surrounding buildings, roadways, etc. negatively if the light is too bright, glary, or harsh. So, it’s probably true that exterior lighting can be trickier and need to be done with a bit more care.
• What could be done for getting right solutions without having technological conveniences or special materials? Are there elements/ materials/products which contribute to the lighting indirectly excluding lighting elements? For example, does mirror usage contribute to lighting in interiors?
The entirety of the space affects lighting design. Light colored interiors would allow for less lighting overall, whereas darker spaces would need more luminaires or brighter sources to reach the same overall light levels as the light colored space would require. So, being involved and knowledgeable about the finishes and general look of the space is important.
Reflective surfaces, such as mirrors, polished stone, glossy paint, smooth plastic, etc. would all have effects on the lighting, as would rough surfaces, even if lightly colored, etc. Direction of the windows, sun angles, exterior surroundings all affect the lighting both on the interior as well as exterior. Occupant load and use of the space affects the lighting choices as well since more people might require a more evenly illuminated space versus a space where the design may allow for the perimeter to stay darker as a design feature. Overall the entirety of the space, meaning the use, finishes, aesthetic goals, etc. all affect the lighting design. In general terms, lighting is affected by and affects all other elements of an interior than anything else in the interior. With regard for exterior it is simple: Nothing would be visible, other than with moonlight, without the lighting, so it all must be considered.