05 Apr Concepts of Architectural Lighting Design
You might be surprised at how important the correct lighting installation for buildings really is. Have you ever heard of architectural lighting design? It’s a combination of different fields including electrical engineering, interior design and architecture. Whilst it isn’t necessary to be an expert in any of these fields when it comes to choosing your perfect lighting installation, it is still a fascinating subject to shed light on – pardon the pun!
Architectural lighting design is the process of creating the right natural or artificial lighting system to serve the human needs in a specific space. It includes considerations of the type of activity that will occur in the space, how much light is needed and how the colour of that light will affect objects in the space. It also looks at how that light will be distributed and its impact on the user. The desired end result is light that suits the environment, enables the person to see clearly and causes no discomfort.
One of the important facets of architectural lighting design is how the lighting will affect the aesthetics of a building. This is of particular importance in public spaces, such as shops, restaurants and offices. The next consideration is that of ergonomics, with the third being the economy of the lighting. A lighting design expert will look at each of these in depth. Bespoke lighting designers for private homes will also want to get a feel for the space they are creating for, to ensure they are not over-illuminating and to guarantee the best ergonomic fit for the space. The long chandelier in the below image requires a large space to appear at its grandest, for example.
Aesthetically, your designer will want to make a lighting feature that’s attractive and understand whether it is to stand out as a statement piece or whether it needs to subtly blend in with existing décor or lighting. Other visual considerations include what kind of atmosphere the lighting will produce and what emotions does it evoke. Ergonomically, the physical impact on the user and the space around it will be taken into account.
The reason that many employ the services of specialist lighting designers is that it’s one of the areas of design where there are little limitations on how dramatic and creative you can be. Having the correct lighting can make a huge difference to the aesthetics of a space, whether you’re lighting up a dark area artificially or want to make use of natural light in clever ways, such as the brilliant crystal reflections from a chandelier.
There are many ways to use light: in spaces where there isn’t any, for making a space look larger, improving safety and to creatively set a mood. There are also many different kinds of lighting requirements. For example, outdoor floodlighting will have different design considerations than lighting used inside a public library. The ideal lighting conditions for your dining table won’t be the same as the requirements for your staircase, as another example.
Your ideas can become a reality when you choose bespoke lighting options. There are a wide variety of styles available for many different functions. Whilst some are mostly functional, others can be stunning works of art in themselves. An important consideration in lighting fittings is something called the luminous efficiency. This equates to the amount of light coming from the fitting per used energy, most often measured in lumens or watts. The more transparent a fitting is, the higher the luminous efficacy, which is what makes crystal chandelier lighting the perfect choice for both areas that receive little light and for soaking up natural light.
For large-scale industrial lighting, designers must consider a whole range of lighting impacts. The position and height of mounted lights, photometric characteristics, uniformity and quantity being just a few. Imagine a building with an irregular floor plan requiring different levels of lighting at different points. Designers are often aided by lighting design software for larger and more complex projects. Information can be entered into the software programme such as the location of lights, how much they reflect off opposing walls, the height of ceilings and distance from floors. Further data can include the impact on any near skylights or windows as well. That’s an awful lot of complicated data but lighting in public spaces must meet certain regulatory stipulations.
When it comes to commissioning a unique piece for your required space, you don’t need to be a lighting expert. A few small considerations could include thinking about where you need additional lighting, what will its purpose be and how will it compliment existing lighting or décor? Will it be purely for stunning, visual effect or does your piece need to perform an important function also? Thinking about how your lighting will best serve your space will guarantee the most benefit from your chosen design.