Three decades ago the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank (HSBC) Headquarters by Norman Foster emerged onto the architectural seen as an exemplary product of industrial design. The open layout with its exposed steel structure generated a powerful corporate identity for the bank. But the restrained atmosphere of white architectural lighting and the lack of distinctive façade lighting has lost its attractiveness after sunset. Now the colorful and dynamic relighting presents a remarkable example of how an architectural icon has shifted from a productivist ideology towards a scenographic image. To the western observer the multicolored light language may give off a playful impression, but to the local culture the transformation evokes grandiosity.
Sunlight has proven to be an excellent formgiver, with which architecture can create dynamic environments. The lighting design pioneer William M.C. Lam (1924-2012) emphasized in his book “Sunlighting as Formgiver” that the consideration of daylight is about much more than energy efficiency. Architects have now found numerous ways of implementing sunlight and the questions arises whether a coherent daylight typology could be a valuable target during the design process. However, many daylight analyses focus mainly on energy consumption.
Siobhan Rockcastle and Marilyne Andersen, though, have developed a thrilling qualitative approach at EPFL in Lausanne. Their interest was driven by the spatial and temporal diversity of daylight, introducing a matrix with 10 shades of daylight.
Winter is the perfect time to build structures with ice, a time and a technique that together offer the possibility of a pure white architecture. With a cloudy sky the condition culminates into an impressive whiteout: white architecture, the landscape and the sky dissolve into a diffuse unity without a visible horizon. If clear skies emerge a subtle contrast of warm and cool white appears with yellowish sunrays against the blue sky. However, the ice itself has striking effects as well: The surface appearance ranges from crystal clear glass to soft opaque impressions. And, for the long nights, illumination achieves an additional magical glow and extends the short daylight time.
Worldwide, snow shows, ice hotels and festivals have attracted numerous visitors with glistening snows and stunning lighting solutions. Futhermore, this frozen water strategy presents a sustainable solution par excellence, where the manufacturing and even disposal causes no harm to the environment. Read on to explore the coolest projects and events featuring architects and artists from Finland to China.
How will our buildings change when your mobile device can receive huge amounts of data flowing from the luminaires above you? Not only has LED brought us a highly efficient light source, but a promising instrument for visible light communication (VLC) as well. Therefore light will not only be a medium to support vision, but it will also be an essential means of data communication. With the low energy consumption of LED one can even set up luminaires without mains cables for the power and just install Ethernet cables. Welcome to the world of digital lighting.
Completed in 1986, Donald Judd's 100 aluminum boxes offer one of the most exciting locations to study the grace of minimalism. His vision at Marfa in Texas has transformed a piece of military history into a peaceful and unique environment for art and architecture. Here, the shimmering material transcends the formal strictness of plain patterns and the narrow concepts of minimalism. The multiple reflections of light and space create an illusionary atmosphere beyond ascetic ideas.
With its hundreds of churches, Rome has a developed a rich history of domes. Inspired by this heritage, Jakob Straub has photographed the city's most remarkable rotundas from the ancient Pantheon up to Pier Luigi Nervi's modern sports arena. His neutral photo perspective, taken looking upwards from the center of the rotunda, opens a new view for the underlying concepts where the architecture yearns for the firmament. For Elías Torres, these “zenithal-lit” spaces constitute an important method for daylight architecture, where the exterior is also transformed into a fascinating distant reality.
Torres has analysed numerous strategies for lighting architecture effectively with daylight from above. In his book “Zenithal Light,” illustrated with an abundance of striking photos, he came to the conclusion that “Amongst the representations of the sky in the interior of architecture, the one that depicts the sun shining from above with a circular form has been the favoured one for many cultures.”
Global companies often exploit architectural icons to transform physical form into their desired brand reputations. To help achieve this goal, after twilight, the natural qualities of buildings have often been supplemented by architectural lighting, as the facades call unmistakeably for attention with their colorful and dynamic illumination. Representation has become the leading motivation for upgrading the lighting at headquarters and retail outlets. But when the illumination evolves into spectacular gestures, the brand identity and architecture itself starts to fade. Hence, the struggle for individuality has revived the discussion about ornament – though ornament appears now as light.
Is there a designer who does not dream of the perfect lighting concept, which conveys a feeling of well-being and shows the architecture at its best? Unfortunately, however, it is often the case that the brief received from the client causes difficulties. All too often discussions are peppered with such terms as LEDs and lux levels,causing an unconscious shift in thinking in the direction of norms and technology instead of placing questions about requirements and lighting quality at the centre of discussion. But what exactly is quality lighting design?
Thanks to the increasing availability of giant LED screens, the Golden Age of Neon has quietly faded in Las Vegas. For decades casinos defined their visual identity with colorful neon signs and competed for the most innovative signage. But with casinos closing, being refurbished and the arrival of new lighting technology a lot of neon signs were replaced, and for many years the Young Electric Sign Company kept the old neon signs in their "boneyard" for storage and recycling. Fortunately historic preservation groups rescued these signs. With support of the arts council The Neon Museum was born to save neon treasures and to educate the public.
Read on to explore Las Vegas' luminous landmarks and The Neon Museum.
Architecture professor and photographer Henry Plummer has heightened the transformative power of daylight with his cameras and published several remarkable books about light and architecture. His deep interest in light, and his lyrical writing perspective, were formed through his contact with the designer and art theorist György Kepes while studying at MIT. Within his numerous photo journeys Plummer has documented the various facets of daylight in Japan and the Nordic Countries, and of masters like Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. As a Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Plummer also still has ambitious plans for future book projects. In the second part of this interview, Plummer reveals how changing technologies have affected his photography, and discusses his thoughts on phenomenology and developing a poetic language of light.
If you missed it, you can read part one of this interview here.
Architecture professor and photographer Henry Plummer has heightened the transformative power of daylight with his cameras and published several remarkable books about light and architecture. His deep interest in light, and his lyrical writing perspective, were formed through his contact with the designer and art theorist György Kepes while studying at MIT. Within his numerous photo journeys Plummer has documented the various facets of daylight in Japan and the Nordic Countries, and of masters like Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. As a Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Plummer also still has ambitious plans for future book projects. In the first part of this interview, Plummer shares a variety of insights about understanding light and approaching buildings for photography.
Before computer daylight simulations were used to optimize the atmosphere and energy in buildings, generations of builders developed simple principles to create the best windows for their site. Two lighting experts have studied these traditional openings in buildings to find inspiration for more sustainable designs today. Francesco Anselmo, a lighting designer at Arup, and John Mardaljevic, Professor of Building Daylight Modelling at the School of Civil & Building Engineering of Loughborough University, have analysed the sun and skylight variations from northern regions like Stockholm down to the equator in cities like Haiti or Abu Dhabi.
Read on to learn more about the variety of traditional windows.
For his three sacred buildings, Le Corbusier has played masterfully with orientation, openings and textures to create kinetic architecture with daylight. His pilgrimage chapel at Ronchamp, the monastery of Sainte Marie de La Tourette, and the parish church of Saint-Pierre in Firminy reveal distinctive and individual approaches that each render contemplative spaces with light. In his book “Cosmos of Light: The Sacred Architecture of Le Corbusier,” Henry Plummer, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has analysed these projects with outstanding photographs taken over 40 years and brilliant writing.
Read on for more about how Le Corbusier created his cosmos of light.
Light is all around us, and it increasingly affects our daily lives. For example, we have started to carry personal light sources around with our smartphones, and in our homes many electrical machines now utilize light to display information and simply to appear more attractive. In a larger context, architecture and cities have also developed a new dimension with the advent of electrical lighting for work and entertainment.
Inspired by the central role of light for our culture and technology, the United Nations has proclaimed 2015 as the “International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies” (IYL2015). With IYL2015 the UN wants to raise the awareness of the importance of light and optical technologies in our lives, our future and the development of society.
Read on after the break for more enlightenment around IYL2015.
Sustainable lighting design offers various well-being and environmental benefits in addition to economic advantages for clients and users. Although daylight provides a free lighting source, for most spaces the amount and time of daylight is not sufficient and electrical lighting is necessary. A focus on sustainability becomes essential for minimizing energy consumption and improving the quality of life. Even though efficiency has significantly increased with LED technology, electrical lighting is still more widely used. Often the ambition for renovations or new applications goes along with a higher quantity of lighting instead of finding a better lighting quality with an adequate amount of energy.
Read on after the break for Light Matters’ 7 fundamental steps to achieve sustainable lighting.
Imagine luminaires that could fly and visualise new buildings or individually guide you through space. What would happen if you could even interact with these flying pixels? These concepts could be realised in the near future as the first prototypes and experiments are being introduced. Software-driven LED pixels combined with drone swarm technology provide extraordinary possibilities for inducing new forms of spatial experience. These luminous pixel clouds emerge as digital patterns, but at the same time they emanate a romantic quality with their unique star formations twinkling in the night sky. The first projects have shared a playful note, but laboratories such as MIT's SENSEable City Lab, ARES Lab and Ars Electronica Futurelab have shown an intriguing future in urban design for guidance systems or envisioning real estate developments, as advances in battery technology and wireless control have opened new perspectives for a life with smart flying pixels.
The Scandinavian countries have developed great buildings that resonate with both the scarce light in winter and the long summer days. Henry Plummer, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has very carefully studied the various daylight phenomena in the Nordic countries, with extensive photo journeys and brilliant writing that combines an analytical perspective with a poetic touch. His view of daylight looks beyond the practical advantages of using reflective white spaces to facilitate bright rooms; the passionate photographer is much more interested in the light effects that play with the local beauty of nature and touch the human soul.
Read on for more about how Nordic light enters white spaces
“Elements of Architecture,” the Rem Koolhaas-curated exhibition at the 2014 Venice Biennale, delved into several remarkable structural as well as technical components of architecture, including floors, walls, doors, stairs and toilets. But why was light missing?
My manifesto for the inclusion of light as a fundamental element of architecture — after the break.