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Light Matters: The Latest Architecture and News

Light Matters: Sacred Spaces

The use of light can lead to very diverse feelings: a ray of sunlight calls attention; glare overpowers; the nocturnal sky fascinates, while a dense dark forest arouses fear. Religions have made use of these experiences to convey the mystic aspects of their respective deities — accordingly, so too do their erected buildings.

After the break, an exploration of the different approaches for using light as a vehicle of symbolic meaning and spiritual experience in religious spaces.

Al-Irsyad Mosque, Indonesia. Architects: PT. Urbane Indonesia. Image © Emilio Photoimagination Cathedral of Brasilia, Brazil. Architect: Oscar Niemeyer. Image © Wikimedia Commons Crystal Cathedral, USA. Architect: Philip Johnson. Image Courtesy of American Seating Church of Light, Japan. Architect: Tadao Ando. Image © Buou + 9

Light Matters: 7 Ways Daylight Can Make Design More Sustainable

Daylight is a highly cost-effective means of reducing the energy for electrical lighting and cooling. But architectural education often reduces the aspect of daylight to eye-catching effects on facades and scarcely discusses its potential effects - not just on cost, but on health, well-being and energy.

This Light Matters will explore the often unexplored aspects of daylight and introduce key strategies for you to better incorporate daylight into design: from optimizing building orientations to choosing interior surface qualities that achieve the right reflectance. These steps can significantly reduce your investment as well as operating costs. And while these strategies will certainly catch the interest of economically orientated clients, you will soon discover that daylight can do so much more.

More Light Matters with daylight, after the break…

Light Matters: Glass Beyond Transparency with James Carpenter

In Modernism’s attempt to dissolve spatial boundaries with transparency, the material used - glass - is all too often dematerialised. In contrast, the New York-based designer James Carpenter is interested in multiple readings of glass - beyond transparency.

As Carpenter explains: “People approach light in relationship to architecture. It is that the light is the means by which the architecture is revealed and the architecture is basically defined by the way the light enters the space. I tend to think actually from the opposite direction where the light itself is what informs the architecture. The architecture is in service of light rather than the other way around.” 

More Light Matters, after the break…

7 World Trade Center. New York, NY 2003-2007. Image © Andreas Keller Dichroic Light Field. Millennium Tower at 160 Columbus Avenue. New York, NY. 1994-1995. Image © JCDA Dichroic Light Field. Millennium Tower at 160 Columbus Avenue. New York, NY. 1994-1995. Image © JCDA Sky Reflector-Net (2013), an integrated artwork, is an artist, architect, engineer collaboration with James Carpenter Design Associates, Grimshaw Architects, and Arup, commissioned by MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design and MTA Capital Construction Company (MTACC). Image © Richard Kress, JCDA + 17

Light Matters: Europe's Leading Light Festivals

In mid autumn, when the nights get longer in the northern hemisphere, we encounter numerous light festivals. And indeed, within the last ten years, more and more light festivals have globally emerged. The reason for the success of light festivals is simple, as the German curator Bettina Pelz concludes: “It’s actually fairly easy, because whenever you do something with light in cities in the night, then people do come. If you do it good, they come twice.” 

As Pelz points out, light is an apt medium for evening events, since it easily attracts people. Communities have discovered the potential of lighting for city marketing, and the closer they plan their date to Christmas, the more they merge their illumination with the festive blinking lights of commercial Christmas markets.

Join us on a tour through some of the leading light festivals in Europe. Read more about their different backgrounds, artistic concepts and future trends after the break...

Light Marina Bay. Singapore, 2012. Image © Darren Chin Berliner Cathedral, Festival of lights. Berlin, 2012. Photographer: Marius Schwarz. Image Courtesy of  Festival of lights / Frank Herrmann Tunnel of love by Vollaerszwart. Glow 2011. Image Courtesy of GLOW Eindhoven Cagna Illuminations, 2012. Design: De Cagna . Light Festival Ghent. Image Courtesy of City of Ghent + 30

Light Matters: 3D Video Mapping, Making Architecture The Screen for Our Urban Stories

Powerful video projectors at an affordable price have opened the path for a young, impressive art form: 3D video mapping, a means of projection that uses the architecture itself as the screen. Artists and researchers initiated the movement, developing a new visual language to interpret architecture. Later, marketing adopted this technique for branding, with large-scale projections on skyscrapers; political activists have also initiated dialogues, turning ephemeral light interventions into eye-catching ways to point out and address urban design issues.

More on the ways artists and groups develop this visual language for urban storytelling, after the break…

Light Matters: Recovering The Dark Sky

The advent of electrical lighting has allowed us to colonise the night. Not only have kilometres of street lighting ensured higher levels of safety, but signs, advertisements, etc. continue to draw us into nocturnal landscapes. As Rem Koolhaas explored in Delirious New York, Manhattan and Coney Island were the early luminous prototypes for today’s continuously vibrant metropolises: cities that establish new rhythms, a new balance between work and life. 

But what happens when lighting upsets our natural balance? When we lose the beauty of the dark sky, the stars? What happens when lighting turns into pollution? 

More Light Matters, after the break...

Light Matters: Can Light "Cheat" In Simulations?

In recent years the use of CAD and simulation programs has resulted in a new understanding of light in architecture. The drawing board and its lamp have given way to the self-illuminating monitor. The result is that concepts in architecture are now made of light from the very first mouse click. In the visualisation process, luminous space now predominates.

However, this begs the question: has the luminous impression (part and parcel of the perfect, rendered setting) become more important than the engineering or architectural concept itself? With the improved interplay of shades, contrast, and brilliance, can lighting actually obscure the point of a realistic simulation?

More Light Matters, after the break…

Light Matters: Seeing the Light with James Turrell

Light matters, a monthly column on light and space, is written by Thomas Schielke. Based in Germany, he is fascinated by architectural lighting, has published numerous articles and co-authored the book „Light Perspectives“.

From early nocturnal studies in a lonely hotel room to transforming a volcano in the world’s biggest landscape art project to, most recently, lighting up the Guggenheim in New York, the American artist James Turrell is driven by his fascination with light. He explores perception for visual experiences where light is not a tool to enable vision but rather something to look at itself.

More Light Matters, after the break…

James Turrell: Roden Crater, East Portal. 2010. Photograph by Florian Holzherr, www.architekturfoto.net James Turrell: Afrum I (White), 1967. Projected light, dimensions variable. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Panza Collection, Gift 92.4175.  © James Turrell. Installation view: Singular Forms (sometimes repeated), Solomon R. Guggenheim. Museum, New York, March 5–May 19, 2004. Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York. James Turrell, American, born 1943. The Light Inside, 1999. Neon and ambient light. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, museum commission, gift of Isabel B. and Wallace S. Wilson. © James Turrell. James Turrell: Rendering for Aten Reign, 2013. Daylight and LED light. Site-specific installation, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. © James Turrell. Rendering: Andreas Tjeldflaat, 2012 © SRGF. + 10

Light Matters: Louis Kahn and the Power of Shadow

Light matters, a monthly column on light and space, is written by Thomas Schielke. Based in Germany, he is fascinated by architectural lighting, has published numerous articles and co-authored the book „Light Perspectives“.

Does shadow have the power to give form to architecture? The increasing number of transparent buildings and LED installations would enforce the impression that light has eliminated the relevance of shadow. But to answer that question, let’s look back to a master of light whose architecture was shaped by shadow: Louis Kahn.

More Light Matters, after the break…

Light Matters: What Media Facades Are Saying

© Patrick Bingham-Hall
© Patrick Bingham-Hall

Light matters, a monthly column on light and space, is written by Thomas Schielke. Based in Germany, he is fascinated by architectural lighting, has published numerous articles and co-authored the book „Light Perspectives“.

Today we have permanent media façade installations worldwide that call for attention. With size, tempo, colour and brightness they stand up as individuals within the urban nightscape. Many of them send out their luminous messages in a broadcast mode. For this reason, neighbours, on occasion, demand an intense dialogue with regard to content and form of the media façade, especially as it’s often unclear whether light installations are architecture or advertisement.

However, in the same way a good book requires a storyteller, media facades demand curators to arrange exciting stories that fit into the site and suit the client. The following four examples show how media facades reflect the story of the buildings themselves - see them all, after the break...