Light and Architecture

Light, both natural and artificial, is an inherent element of architecture. During the development of the urban and architectural concept, it is one of the most important factors in a new investment. It is put on a par with the materials such as wood, stone, brick, concrete, glass or steel.

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Lighting in construction has two very important functions

The first one concerns residential, office, or industrial buildings, where the light is to be used. As we know, the sun is essential for the proper functioning of our bodies. Therefore, it is very important when planning space to use natural light, or artificial light, which acts like the sun's rays. Its access is regulated by standards that define the values ​​necessary to illuminate each m2, depending on the function that the room is to fulfill. Let's also not forget that the sun is also solar energy, which, thanks to modern technologies, is more and more often used in construction. In this way, we not only contribute to protecting the environment and using less energy, but we can also save.

Lighting serves completely different properties, in order to emphasize the advantages or hide the shortcomings of the building. In this case, we are talking about the visual-planning function. Monumental or intimate objects are a wide field for experimentation, and showing them in the right light can change the face of an architectural design. Light also carries an emotional charge, necessary to perceive the form itself. He can bring out the properties of materials, emphasize the color and shape.

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There is ample evidence that light and architecture have been an ideal duo for centuries. This is evidenced by both the preserved textbooks for architecture and the buildings that have survived to this day, such as the Pantheon. It has no windows, the light comes through the only opening in the dome. The rays filter onto the majestic coffers, giving the space a divine majesty. It is also worth mentioning the door, placed in such a way that it shines on it during the solstice, on spring and winter days.

One of the first artificially lit buildings was the Eiffel Tower. During its inauguration, during the World Exhibition, which took place in 1889. it was lit by hundreds of gas lamps, turning the colors blue, red and white. At the top of the structure there were floodlights illuminating the remaining pavilions, additionally they signaled the beginning and end of the exhibition every day.

Richard Kelly is considered a pioneer of architectural lighting. His first project that gained worldwide recognition was Glass House, the so-called Glass House realized in 1949. along with Philip Johnson. This building became a breakthrough in construction, as it was the first one to be entirely made of glass and steel, which was unusual at that time. It was also an integral part of the surrounding landscape. But it was the lighting that turned out to be the biggest challenge here. How can the light not be reflected in the glass, like in a mirror? Kelly has kept the appropriate balance between the lighting inside and outside the building. At the same time, reducing its intensity inside and illuminating the lawn and trees in the immediate vicinity of the house. Thanks to this, this architecture became invisible after dark.

How to properly light the architecture?

Thanks to Richard Kelly, we also have a methodology for architectural lighting design . His publication distinguishes three key types of light:

1. Focal glow - task light that gives direction to the space and shows the viewer what to look at, e.g. a spotlight or a reading lamp.

2. Ambient luminescence - uniform light without shadow;

3. A dazzling game - decorative light, e.g. a chandelier, which shines with flickering shafts of light.

The architect therefore has three types of light that must be properly distributed. Unfortunately, we are struggling with the problem of excessive lighting of buildings, this also applies to streets, parks and squares, which causes a phenomenon called light pollution. We know it very well after dark, when a glow of light hovers over the city.

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Technological development gives us optimism and is able to cope with the existing problems. The solution is LED sources, they account for approx. 50% of the global lighting market. They are much more effective than traditional light bulbs. They consume about 80% less energy and can burn up to 15 times longer. With their help, we can also: control the angle of incidence of light, remotely manage it from various external systems, synchronize with light or motion sensors, and even use it to transfer data.

Lighting producer Lena Lighting is responsible for the project illumination of the building of the Faculty of Architecture of the Poznań University of Technology. From the very beginning, it was accompanied by an eco-friendly idea, as a result of which one of the most modern and energy-saving facilities in this part of the world was created. Low energy consumption was achieved thanks to the use of efficient luminaires with an integrated LED panel, made of a PCB on an aluminum backing . The implementation itself consisted of two stages. During the first one, outdoor luminaires were used, on which 16 lamps with individually adjusted lighting angle were mounted. In the second phase, a system of external luminaires with a wide distribution was used for the upper part of the building, which created the effect of a flood of light in a special cornflower color.

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