How Artificial Lighting can Improve (or Worsen) Architecture

How Artificial Lighting can Improve (or Worsen) Architecture

Of the varying aspects of architectural and interior design, lighting is one element that can visually enhance or destroy a space. This influence stems from the wide range of artificial lighting designed for the most widely differing tasks, environments, and purposes, including internal and even external spaces such as facades and landscape projects. Think of two environments with the same dimensions and layout. Suppose that in the first, only one point of light was applied - a general, unspecified point of light in this case - while in the second a light project was performed considering the use of space and valuing certain aspects of the architectural design. Undoubtedly, the second option is a more pleasant space. In the same way, poor lighting design can ruin an environment. But how is it possible to achieve these different results?

In a previous article, we already showed how to calculate the correct light intensity required for each environment. Here, we compile a list of some of the key types of lighting systems.

Direct lighting

Direct lighting. Image © Matheus Pereira
Direct lighting. Image © Matheus Pereira

Direct illumination is a method of lighting in which the luminous flux hits a surface directly, permitting no loss in the luminosity of the light due to absorption in the walls or ceiling. Practically, it should be used for work or task areas such as kitchen worktops, work areas, office desks, etc.

Direct illumination should be employed with caution because it can become visually tiring through its creation of “hard” shadows. It is also worth noting that it should not be positioned on surfaces that glare or reflect, such as mirrors or glass.

© Tinnaphop Chawatin
© Tinnaphop Chawatin

Indirect lighting

Indirect lighting. Image © Matheus Pereira
Indirect lighting. Image © Matheus Pereira

Unlike the previous method, this lighting system directs the light source to another surface so that part of the light is absorbed and the other is reflected in the opposite direction, producing a soft light without directing bulks of light onto a single surface. In short, we can say that light is reflected off the surface and only then disperses throughout the environment.

© Jonathan Friedman
© Jonathan Friedman

Overall, this system conveys comfort and visual well-being, and is often applied to relaxation spaces such as living rooms, dormitories, hospitals, and spas.

Diffused lighting

Diffused lighting. Image © Matheus Pereira
Diffused lighting. Image © Matheus Pereira

In this system, the luminous flux of a light source passes through a diffuser element (which may be milky glass or an acrylic plate, for example), and is directed in all directions without light beams. This system produces few variations in shadows and much of the light reaches the intended surface by reflecting off ceilings and walls, making the ambient lighting quite homogeneous.

© Fernando Lazlo
© Fernando Lazlo

Effect lighting

Effect lighting. Image © Matheus Pereira
Effect lighting. Image © Matheus Pereira

In this method, the light source remains embedded in the ceiling or some architectural element and serves to highlight only the light itself, creating a dramatic effect. It is often used indoors in crown molding and outdoors in landscaping or façades.

© Atelier XYZ
© Atelier XYZ

Accent lighting

Accent lighting. Image © Matheus Pereira
Accent lighting. Image © Matheus Pereira

Directed to illuminate points or zones of interest, this lighting system features a light source positioned directly over a prominent object such as a painting or sculpture. It is often employed in residential and commercial environments, but also in museum spaces. It is imperative that the correct lamps are utilized in each situation, because with such direct light projection, certain lamps tend to raise the temperature of the object illuminated, causing deterioration.

© Nelson Kon
© Nelson Kon

Wall Washing

Wall washing. Image © Matheus Pereira
Wall washing. Image © Matheus Pereira

Creating a scenic illuminating effect, wall washing employs a series of light points in a series or by means of a led strip, producing so-called “light washes” on a surface. It is ideal for highlighting facades and enhancing architecture.

Cortesia de Studio MK27
Cortesia de Studio MK27
About this author
Cite: Pereira, Matheus. "How Artificial Lighting can Improve (or Worsen) Architecture" [As possibilidades da iluminação artificial para melhorar (ou piorar) a arquitetura] 05 Dec 2019. ArchDaily. (Trans. Souza, Eduardo) Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/928658/how-artificial-lighting-can-improve-or-worsen-architecture> ISSN 0719-8884
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