Heritage and LED
Perth, 31st July 2012
Modern LED lighting technology is great and a big advancement in what is now possible in terms of lighting applications and techniques . But does modern technology marry well with heritage buildings and fabrics? I am posing myself that question as we embark on the lighting design of a more than hundred year old heritage building, an icon in the city, but how to bring it to its full splendour at night? Will LED be the answer?
The building façade has beautiful architectural features, very ornamental, but otherwise finished in a matt warm white plaster-like finish. The building is currently lit with some “ugly” glary floodlights from across the road. Improving on the current lighting is not difficult, but what will be the appropriate lighting intent for this building? Like so many others, my client has been brainwashed by the LED cowboys to the extent that the only thing that he keeps asking me is whether I will be using LED for the lighting…and I keep diplomatically saying; yes, sure, it is part of the overall design considerations.
RGB and colour changing… ? I don’t think so, it did not exist 100 years ago and introducing abundant colours would really have to be built on a very strong story and need. Just because we can does not mean we have to!!! In my mind heritage needs to be approached in a conventional way, to validate the architecture the way it would have been back in history, albeit that new technology can be (and should be!) used. In my design vocabulary I don’t want to see the lights, unless they have a direct function (practical or decorative) to fulfil. If not hide them! We want to enjoy the effects and not be distracted by ugly structures (often in horrible black non matching housings). This will be the big challenge…how to integrate the latest LED technology to our advantage, (re)creating the lighting effects that will bring out the heritage feel of the building to its best without focussing the attention on the fact that we are using LED’s. Dignity, respect and majestic are words that spring to my mind as I embark on the design…
Light Watch 3-115: Companies like IGuzzini have been leading examples in promoting heritage lighting, like the light up of a whole scala of heritage buildings in St Petersburg including the famous Hermitage Building…
Photo’s courtesy of IGuzzini