Understanding Architectural Lighting


Architectural lighting is the art of using functional lighting to compliment and enhance the room in which it is situated. A professional lighting architect needs to have a good understanding of architectural principles and full awareness of how the space will be used. With 2015 being the ‘International Year of Light and Lighting Technology’, the world has been celebrating lighting and discussing the future of lighting technology, with an aim to make better and more efficient light.

As architectural lighting technology is such a hot topic, diverse lighting technologies, tools and solutions are being announced regularly. With new architectural lighting technologies surfacing in the market, lighting designers need to be aware of the emerging trends, as well as the latest technologies.

Understanding Architectural Lighting

Changing Trends

Trends in architectural lighting are dependent on the role that light plays within a given building. Lighting designers need to weigh up the amount of functional light needed, aesthetic impact generated by the light and also the energy consumed by any lighting installation. Hospitals, theatres and sports arenas have specific lighting requirements, whilst, warehouses and office buildings are more interested in reducing costs through energy effectiveness. By contrast, the lighting design in casinos and cinemas is designed in a way that enhances the emotional aspect of the building, and to manipulate those people passing through it. Casinos in particular use lighting to simulate daylight, in order to keep people awake, gambling and disorientated, so an understanding of how lighting effects people is also useful.

Components of Lighting

A good architectural lighting expert is required to have a superb understanding of the psychology of lighting, manufacture and production methods, as well as the complexity of lighting installation. With a thorough understanding, lighting designers are able to enrich a given space balancing tone, texture and shadow to create something that takes into account functionality whilst evoking an emotional response.

It is also important to understand that an architectural lighting expert focuses on various dimensions, such as aesthetic appeal, ergonomic factors and energy efficiency.

Lighting design also needs to consider lighting fixtures. Such fixtures serve a myriad of functions. The most straightforward function of lighting fixtures, is their use as holders for the light sources and their placement in a room. Some fixtures look at directing the light, while others are used to diffuse the light. With the advent of smart homes and the ‘Internet of things’, lighting is going to become more controllable, as well as changeable in the future. Using coloured light and situation specific settings, the control of light will move into the hands of the building owner. The results of this change of control are still to be seen.

Architectural lighting and smart lighting design is an important part of modern architecture and whilst we take for granted the light all around us, it is all carefully planned with specific goals in mind.

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