There is light at the end of the tunnel. A hereditary expression that has been passing along from one generation to the other and got translated to so many languages. It is not out of coincidence that it has become this famous for referencing it in our daily talks.

Corner glass window with glowing crowded city

As humans, we value light from the beginning of humanity. Starting from creating light from wood up till scientists coming up with lighting systems for psychological purposes. Architectural lighting design is an independent field within architecture, interior design and electrical engineering and not a thing to be taken lightly. When it comes to constructing big projects, an engineer should consider many factors. The kind of human activity under the selected lighting, the amount of light required to come in, the relationship between light and space, and most importantly is the space indoor or outdoor.

What are the types of lighting and how to categorise them?

Many architects among history prefer to derive their lighting creations from the natural light and how to amplify the use of it. Light is a universal necessity and how it facilitates our life has many interlacing characteristics to be taken into consideration. Understating the importance of light in a construction project is considered a core asset of the architectural plan. The first aspect of categorisation goes to the level of temperature this system is exposing to the surroundings, the lowest being incandescent lamps (soft-white fluorescent lamps) with 2,799-3,300K and the highest be clear blue poleward sky with 15,000-27,000K. Second classification coming in line; cove, soffit, and valance.

  • Cove: Mostly located high up on a wall, lighting a shelf, ledge or directed to a wall that bounces light towards the ceiling.
  • Soffit: The exterior parts of the building where it is usually installed in flat parts of the roofline or gables radiating light downwards.
  • Valance: This lighting is normally located in wood, metal or glass. Mostly mounted above a window or high on the wall to create a horizontal shield making the light bounces upward and downward.

Now that we have known how to classify lighting systems, the question that follows is why would we classify lighting patterns? What kind of effect does that small bulb have on us?

The philosophy behind the classification of light

We categorize light upon impact on our physical and mental health. Studying the effects of lighting on humans has been a rich topic of interest for many scientists out there, and most of the conclusions reached that light affects humans mildly. According to a study conducted by the Center for Environmental Therapeutics on the Effects of Light on Health, light has an impact on the regulation of neutral circuits and the function of neurotransmitters. One of the main causes behind the effect of light on the body is the serotonin levels in the brain, and how it automatically stimulated whenever there’s sun or natural light. The human evolution is shaped by light, with its different wavelengths that affect blood pressure, pulse, respiration rates, brain activity, and biorhythms. Upon another conclusion in the year 2002, proper light and exposure are responsible for producing hormones melatonin and cortisol which are essential for a healthy rest-activity pattern for each human.

Buildings that were built in light of the above

  1. Lusail Stadium
    Country: Qatar
    Type of venue: Stadium
    Capacity of venue: 47,500 seats
    Main highlights: This stadium known as Qatar Iconic Stadium has been presented with a futuristic glass roof to keep the summer heat out and for when matches are happening in day-light, no extra power to be conducted for that. Foster+Partners from the UK was the firm chosen to handle this project and expected to launch officially in 2021.
  2. Symthe Library
    Country: England
    Type of venue: Tonbridge School
    Area of venue: 1,076 square feet
    Main highlights: The library was originally designed by British architect Sir William Holford in 1962, however approaching the 2000’s required a renovation which Colin Ball, a lighting designer, took on his plate gracefully. Colin Ball approached this task with an integrated solution that matches between space and light. Understanding the importance of lighting in a library, he used track-mounted 28.9W-per-meter 3000K linear LED fixtures servicing several functions. Moreover, he had valuable input regarding the type of glass used gaoling to minimize reflections.
  3. Page Reagan National Airport
    Country: The United States of America
    Type of venue: Airport
    Area of venue: 1,536 square feet
    Main highlights: A task was assigned to Lighting designers Renee Joosten and Patricia Vallejo to re-install the lighting system in a building that was constructed almost 70 years ago. Challenge accepted and embraced by the firm and their main aspect was to have a central lighting point emanating to the rest of the space. Using 10 white cantilevered ‘petals’, inside each one are six custom four-channel linear LED uplights with dynamic-white and amber LEDs. The mix and match between colour temperatures aim to create a balanced illumination of natural light and the installed petals throughout the day.
  4. Al Hilal Tower
    Country: the United Arab of Emirates
    Type of venue: Bank
    Area of venue: 942,600 square feet
    Main highlights: The vertical form of lighting is the main highlight of this project, using 4000K linear LED façade luminaire with 30×60 degree beam spread and louver with 5-degree aiming angle mounting bracket. This building has one defining feature that stands out which is to include steel boxes with the glass because glass does not glow unless it contains a medium that accepts the light and hence illuminating the orange corners was a success.
  5. Ace Hotel Chicago
    Country: The United States of America
    Type of venue: Hospitality
    Area of venue: 140,000 square feet
    Main highlights: A hotel with 159 guestrooms, 5 event venues with a landscaped roof terrace. The landmark was inspired by the Bauhaus establishment in 1937 but renovated recently by GREC Architects in 2017. The Silver Winner Chicago designer award winner of 2017 understands geometry, fabrics, materials and their relationship with light and that was the sole reason behind creating a building with such a unique aesthetic.

Light is an irreplaceable factor of life and a major element that affects all our aspects, from the exterior to an interior the challenge gets bigger. In short, if you learn how to play with light correctly you get luminance that leads to energy, and energy simply glows the sunny days and the dimmed ones.