Architectural Lighting Design
There is a disconnect between pervasive lighting problems and the limited grounds of lighting design professional practice. It would be simplistic to reduce architectural lighting to energy and light pollution and to advocate “low-consumption” light sources, “dark sky compliance” optics or darkness as universal solutions. Instead, lighting must respond adequately to the complexity of all users’ needs within every environment. Expanding professional lighting expertise would greatly contribute to the dissemination of architectural lighting’s best practices, which are ergonomic, sustainable, ecological, esthetic and adaptive.
Architectural Lighting Design
Wikipedia defines architectural lighting design as “a field within architecture and architectural engineering that concerns itself primarily with the illumination of buildings,” but lighting design is a transdisciplinary design profession that is, in fact, distinct from architectural, interior, landscape and urban design, as well as electrical and electronic engineering, yet intersects with all of them. This design discipline integrates knowledge in the natural sciences and the social sciences, as well as technology and engineering. It requires expertise in the physics of light and the physiology and the psychology of light perception by humans, also known as ergonomics or human factors. It is taught at the undergraduate and graduate academic levels, and its practicing professionals come from various backgrounds, including fine arts, design and engineering.
Architectural Lighting Design
Over time, electric lighting became ubiquitous in developed countries. Segmented sleep patterns disappeared, improved nighttime lighting made people made more activities possible at night, and more street lights reduced urban crime.Without light fittings there can be no Architectural Lighting Design. As these light sources change so does the practice of lighting Design.
The International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) was founded in 1969, and its current mission is “to serve the IALD worldwide membership by promoting the visible success of its members in practicing lighting design.” The organization created a new attitude towards the profession and raised the profile of architectural lighting design, one its principal goals.
Extensive luminaire photometric designing calls for consideration of the amount of functional light present, the energy expended, as well as the aesthetic impact supplied by the lighting system. Some buildings, like surgical centers and sports facilities, are primarily concerned with providing the appropriate amount of light for the associated task. Some buildings, like warehouses and office buildings, are primarily concerned with saving money through the energy efficiency of the lighting system. Other buildings, like casinos and theatres, are primarily concerned with enhancing the appearance and emotional impact of architecture through lighting systems. Therefore, it is important that the sciences of light production and luminaire photometrics are balanced with the artistic application of light as a medium in our built environment. These electrical lighting systems should also consider the impacts of, and ideally be integrated with, daylighting systems. Factors involved in lighting design are essentially the same as those discussed above in energy conservation analysis.
Photometric studies (also sometimes referred to as “layouts” or “point by points”) are often used to simulate lighting designs for projects before they are built or renovated. This enables architects, lighting designers, and engineers to determine whether a proposed lighting setup will deliver the amount of light intended. They will also be able to determine the contrast ratio between light and dark areas. In many cases these studies are referenced against IESNA or CIBSE recommended lighting practices for the type of application. Depending on the type of area, different design aspects may be emphasized for safety or practicality (i.e. such as maintaining uniform light levels, avoiding glare or highlighting certain areas). Specialized software is often used to create these, which typically combine the use of two-dimensional digital CAD drawings and lighting simulation software.
Lighting designers work as part of a design team and, like architects, charge fees for services rendered. Professional lighting designers bring solid technical acumen and sensitive design technique to architectural and landscape projects. But the value-added services they provide can make or break the success of a project and, therefore, outweigh, the impact of their fee.
Those who wish to pursue studies in lighting design and architecture can apply to the dual-degree program, a four-year, 120-credit-hour curriculum that combines the NAAB-accredited Master of Architecture and the MFA Lighting Design. Interested students should apply directly to the dual-degree program; they will automatically be considered for admission to the individual Master of Architecture and MFA Lighting Design programs as well.
The Master of Architecture/Master of Fine Arts dual degree is awarded for completion of 120 credits, including a master’s thesis that reflects both areas of study. The curriculum includes the same required courses as each stand-alone degree. The compressed time frame and reduced total credit points are possible because required architecture courses replace free electives in the lighting program, and required lighting design courses replace free electives in the architecture program. There is one combined lighting design/architecture design studio. Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and fulfill all requirements in a timely manner. The standard course of study is four years.
Architectural lighting design focuses on three fundamental aspects of the illumination of buildings or spaces. The first is the aesthetic appeal of a building, an aspect particularly important in the illumination of retail environments. Secondly, the ergonomic aspect: the measure of how much of a function the lighting plays. Thirdly is the energy efficiency issue to ensure that light is not wasted by over-illumination, either by illuminating vacant spaces unnecessarily or by providing more light than needed for the aesthetics or the task.
Computer modeling of outdoor flood lighting usually proceeds directly from photometric data. The total lighting power of a lamp is divided into small solid angular regions. Each region is extended to the surface which is to be lit and the area calculated, giving the light power per unit of area. Where multiple lamps are used to illuminate the same area, each one’s contribution is summed. Again the tabulated light levels (in lux or foot-candles) can be presented as contour lines of constant lighting value, overlaid on the project plan drawing. Hand calculations might only be required at a few points, but computer calculations allow a better estimate of the uniformity and lighting level.
Each of these three aspects is looked at in considerable detail when the lighting designer is at work. In aesthetic appeal, the lighting designer attempts to raise the general attractiveness of the design, measure whether it should be subtly blended into the background or whether it should stand out, and assess what kind of emotions the lighting should evoke. The functional aspects of the project can encompass the need for the project to be visible (by night mostly, but also by day), the impact of daylight on the project and safety issues (glare, color confusion etc.).
Based on the positions and mounting heights of the fixtures, and their photometric characteristics, the proposed lighting layout can be checked for uniformity and quantity of illumination. For larger projects or those with irregular floor plans, lighting design software can be used. Each fixture has its location entered, and the reflectance of walls, ceiling, and floors can be entered. The computer program will then produce a set of contour charts overlaid on the project floor plan, showing the light level to be expected at the working height. More advanced programs can include the effect of light from windows or skylights, allowing further optimization of the operating cost of the lighting installation. The amount of daylight received in an internal space can typically be analyzed by undertaking a daylight factor calculation.
Lighting matters: We have a real opportunity to share the art and the science of light with the general public, and to scale up the positive contribution that lighting design professionals make in the built environment. We cannot predict how the lighting industry will have changed 10 years from now, but we can advocate for best practices to prevail.
Due to the relatively high cost per watt, LED lighting is most useful at very low powers, typically for lamp assemblies of under 10 W. LEDs are currently most useful and cost-effective in low power applications, such as nightlights and flashlights. Colored LEDs can also be used for accent lighting, such as for glass objects, and even in fake ice cubes for drinks at parties. They are also being increasingly used as holiday lighting.
Although applications to the dual-degree program are reviewed by both the Architecture and the Lighting Design admission committees, you submit only one set of application materials. The Office of Admission will ensure that the complete application packet is made available to both admission committees. In addition to being considered for admission to the dual-degree program, your application will be considered for admission to the graduate Architecture and Lighting Design programs separately as well.
Major reductions in the cost of lighting occurred with the discovery of whale oil and kerosene. The potential of electric light as a new building material was recognized in the 1920s and became a useful design tool by the mid-century. Skillful lighting allowed for theatricality, narrative, and a new emphasis on structure and space.