Architectural lighting is the intersection of art and technology—principles of design come into play, as do physics, engineering, and the psychological and physiological effects of light. Architectural lighting design focuses on three fundamental aspects of the illumination of buildings or spaces.
1. The first is the aesthetic appeal of a building, an aspect particularly important in the illumination of retail environments.
2. The ergonomic aspect: the measure of how much of a function the lighting plays.
3. 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.
Cultural factors also need to be considered; for example, bright lights was a mark of wealth through much of Chinese history.
“We often look for fixtures that can do the job of illuminating the space without becoming the headliner, [so that it doesn’t] overwhelm what else is going on in the room,” said Munson. “The lighting has to perform in collaboration with the architecture. They can never be at odds aesthetically—they have to complement each other.” In the end, architectural lighting always works with the architecture, not against it, to create a cohesive spatial experience.
So, to go back to the original question, what is architectural lighting?
Architectural lighting is lighting that enhances, complements, flatters or confirms the experience of a space and/or a structure.
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