Last edited 14 Feb 2021

Architectural lighting and its role

Lighting plays a vital role in the way people experience and understand space. Whether buildings and structures are lit naturally or artificially, lighting is the medium that allows us to see and appreciate are environment.

Lighting can bring an emotional value to architecture – it helps create an experience for those who occupy it. Whether it is daylighting or artificial lighting, light draws attention to textures, colours, and forms of a space, helping architecture achieve its purpose. Vision is arguably the most important sense through which we enjoy architecture, and lighting enhances the way we perceive it.

To create a successful balance between lighting and architecture, it is important to remember three key aspects:

Aesthetic is where designers and architects focus on the emotional impact the balance of lighting and architecture will have on occupants. Designers determine how they want people to feel when they walk around a space. This aspect is especially important for retail locations; exterior lighting should draw the consumer in, and the interior lighting should engage them as they walk through the doors in addition to showing off product.

Function, is also vital. We want the lighting to look a certain way, but we have to also make sure it serves its most important purpose – to help us see. Areas should be illuminated so occupants feel safe, comfortable and confident when navigating a room or building. They should be able to see the floor and walls around them, which should create a feeling of reassurance. They may also need to be able to perform specific functions, such as task lighting for reading, working and so on, emergency lighting to facilitate escape and so on.

The final aspect is very important in today’s age of green building and sustainability. It’s one thing to create an engaging and effective lighting layout, but it’s another to create a breathtaking layout that is also energy efficient. This can be done by assuring the majority of the light is reaching its target and there is less wasted light. For example, installing LEDs rather than fluorescent lighting, as there can be less wasted light due to the directional nature of LEDs.

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