“Back of House”
Mumbai, 26th March 2010
As lighting designers we are generally involved with public areas only, those areas where the public goes, whereas service areas (the so called “Back of House”) are mostly functional and left in the care of the mechanical/electrical consultant. Part of our meeting discussions today focused on the planning and design of the back of house areas that relate to and support the public areas. “Back of house” are areas like kitchens, mechanical rooms, maintenance areas, delivery, loading docks and so on. While our discussions today particularly related to a hotel project it is valid to all type of project applications.
The reason I got involved is that there are many such areas that may not be accessible to the public, but can be seen by the public as part of their visual field of view. While we take much care and diligence to make sure the human eye is well treated in the actual public areas, if left in the care of the electrical consultant (with all due respect) the visible back of house areas often end up with incompatible light colours, bright “glary” lights, etc.
Now that is speaking from experiencing the public areas from its interiors. At times an even bigger issue is the way a building is perceived from its exteriors. While “back of house” areas can be controlled by screens, doors, etc, the external view into a building can be much more unforgiving. Direct view into light fittings in the ceiling, different light colours, brightness contrasts, etc, part of which can actually be classified as “light pollution” and thus waste of energy.
Hence I would ventured to say that control of the public visual environment is probably a more appropriate description of the lighting designers responsibility then just subdividing the lighting design responsibility in front of house and back of house.