Lighting design for a moving target
China, 4th December 2009
No, I am not talking about lighting F1 cars or lighting sports events, as technically the background for these applications is static. My topic today is about lighting a much sneakier application, where the changes literally “creep” up on you! Ever done the design for landscapes?
Today I had a design coordination meeting about the landscape lighting design for one of our projects. By far the trickiest part of the design is to anticipate the growth of the trees and plants. And I am not even talking about their location! Landscape designers have a knack in changing the final locations of trees once they are on site or even interchanging the type of trees because they feel it looks better the other way around. This is largely due to the size and maturity of the trees when selected from the nurseries (of course smaller trees are cheaper than a mature trees…). The conceptual landscape design generally looks lush and green, but when you arrive on site to aim your lights these lush trees appear to be little leafless trees hardly out-measuring your own height. Not exactly the big mature tree that was presented. Of course the tree will eventually grow to that density and height, but that is generally several years away. Meanwhile your light seems over proportioned for the purpose! Reversely when you select a smaller light, it may turn out to be under performing in the future. Experience will help to find a good solution but it remains a challenge time and again!
That is why I feel that lighting design for landscapes is like designing lighting for a moving target. It always changes! I have come back to a site where I wondered where the lights were that we had designed only to find them covered and totally over grown with low planters and creepers…… creepy!