How to design Architectural Lighting?

It is a well-known fact that light brings life to any structure or space. In architectural terms, the quality of lighting in a space defines its character and creates impressions.

It is a well-known fact that light brings life to any structure or space. In architectural terms, the quality of lighting in a space defines its character and creates impressions. Light defines the architectural space and contributes to its perception and understanding while adding value to its function and bringing an emotional component for users.

For designing architectural lighting, while optimising energy usage, requires deep understanding of space, its functionalities, lifestyle of the end users and the overall architectural design of the space. In fact, for a new construction, lighting should be considered as a key component from the initial design stage itself.  

Major components for designing light

Harmeet Singh, Design Director & Nivedita Sehrawat, Creative Director at Design Matrix spell out the major considerations for designing light.

Spatial Factors - Pleasantness, spatial definition and circulation
Psychological Factors - Attraction, Subjective impression (like attitudes, preferences, well being, relaxation & motivation)
Physiological Factors - Things like circadian rhythm and seasonal affective disorder
Task Factors - Visual tasks ( luminance , illuminance and ratios are important for this)

What are the different types of lighting being used?

Medha Kakade & Pavan Kakade, Principal Architects, Kreative House, Hyderabad listed some of the most common types of lighting used.

  • Cove lighting (conceal lighting in strip light form) is used in false ceiling or other areas where light source is not to be seen.
  • Zoom light or focus lights are used where attention need to be drawn on a particular object or design element using ceiling or wall mounted lights.
  • Task lighting to be provided as per utility requirements like study table or a dining table in a hotel etc.
  • Façade lighting is done mainly to highlight exterior building elements like cladding details or an ornamental design or it could also be done simply to create a sense of drama with shadow and shade effect with a sense of depth in the façade using multicoloured lighting options placed at varied heights from ground level etc.
  • Optic fiber lighting is used to create that stary night effect in false ceiling using optical fibers that produce light when illuminated at their far ends with LED light source. This looks simple and is a very costly affair with all that mechanism that goes in to it.
  • Mood lighting is a concept where using a remote control and wall mounted front panel all the lighting fixtures can be controlled with a single click for modes like Sleep mode, Party mode etc. Brand wise Phillips and Syska in LED category are most preferred option for us.

Façade Architectural Lighting

How to design light for various spaces?

According to Harmeet Singh, Design Director & Nivedita Sehrawat, Creative Director, Design Matrix, New Delhi, here are certain considerations to be made while designing lights for various spaces.

 A Residence - Comfort, Protection, age of occupant, different applications for different rooms.
Retail showroom - Excitement, brand perception, visual attractiveness.
An Office environment-Productivity, Task factors (near field, far field) to maintain task attention, visual comfort, minimise veiling reflections.
Sports facility- Type of sports, aerial or ground, multi directional or uni-directional, television broadcasting.
A Warehouse - Security, Uniform Vertical illumination, low contrast.

This is an abstract of an in-depth article on ‘Architectural Lighting’ which appeared in the September 2016 edition of Surfaces Reporter Magazine.

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