Heritage lighting

Perth 16th September 2010

I always find lighting for heritage building projects very exciting and challenging. Interestingly this type of lighting applications seem to happen more in ‘developped” countries rather than in emerging economies, at least that is my experience. I have done quite some heritage projects over the years of which several here in Australia but also iconic hotels like the Raffles Hotel in Singapore and the Majapahit Hotel in Surabaya, Indonesia. But in Asia it is otherwise not such frequent project happening.

Currently I am working on a façade lighting of an old heritage building in Perth and there is a lot more creative thinking required then for a new building. The reasons being manifold. First there is the integrity of the building architecture. Adding floodlights and the like inconsiderately would affect the period look of the building so the first and foremost challenge is to find ways to integrate lighting without the actual light fitting becoming a physical and visible part of the building. Unfortunately this is not always being applied, as one of the heritage churches here in the city where someone  clearly added light fittings fixed on to the façade without any consideration. Though admittedly the night time effect is nice, the day time appearance is horrendous… a real shame and clear demonstration of a lighting design mal practice as far as I am concerned. I cannot understand how that was approved.

The limitations that we often face in heritage buildings is that we are not always allowed to touch or break the building fabric, it being of heritage value. With fabric I mean wall finishes for instances. This means that we need to find ulterior ways to fix the lights to the building and get the power to these lights, leaving the original materials in tact! But that is the exciting part I guess where it challenges our creative thinking.

Then there is the use of modern technology that may not be commensurate with the history of the building. We have to conceal modern technology LED or Compact Fluorescent lamps out of sight or into period type fixtures making it really about the lighting effects and validating the building and its history.

16. September 2010 by Martin Klaasen
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