Architectural lighting is used to illuminate buildings such as monumental structures, retail outlets, corporate headquarters, institutes, academic centres, hospitality facilities and also residential properties. This illumination is used on both the interior and exterior of the building.
Architectural lighting is designed to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the building. It can be used to highlight key areas on the exterior of the building and also to create very subtle environments on the interior of the building.
Architectural lighting is an important aspect in retail environments such as clothing and furniture stores. The lighting designer will aim to create emotional responses from customers to further ‘sell’ the products on display. For example in furniture showrooms lighting can be used in displays in a number of different ways to enhance the aesthetic appeal of furniture. Soft, warm lighting can be used to indicate comfort, relaxation and luxury and cool lighting can indicate elegance and serenity. These can be powerful motivating tools to encourage people to buy new items of furniture for their homes.
Lighting is important in both exterior and interior environments to ensure safety. Lighting designers will assess building plans and ensure that enough lighting is provided to illuminate the interior adequately. This will allow people to move easily from one section of the building to the next. Stairways, emergency exits and other high risk areas need to be well lit with backup lighting in place should the main lights fail for any reason. Also the exterior of buildings needs to be assessed for lighting so that people can navigate around safely at night. Buildings such as airports and hospitals that are accessed around the clock need to provide exterior lighting throughout the night to provide safe passage in public areas.
Another key aspect of architectural lighting is to ensure that a building is adequately lit without providing more light than is necessary. Energy efficiency is a key factor for both public and private buildings to cut back on wastage and fuel bills. Lighting may need to be provided 24/7 in some areas but there may also be many vacant or underused areas that only require infrequent lighting. Automated lights can provide a good option for both exterior and interiors spaces as they can be equipped with motion sensors. This means they will turn on automatically when someone is passing by and then turn off again when the area is vacant again.
Architectural lighting is a mixture of both art and science. The creativity of using light to enhance public and private spaces must also be offset by the practical requirements. If you have a business or residential area that needs illuminating then a professional lighting engineer can carry out an assessment of the property and land and make some practical suggestions for architectural lighting.