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

31. July 2012 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: city beautification, Light and inspiration, light watch, lighting and culture, lighting applications | 1 comment

One Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I would like to add few to your list.

    1. Ecologically Friendly – LED Lighting Is Much More Eco-Friendly
    LED lights are free of toxic chemicals. Most conventional fluorescent lighting bulbs contain a multitude of materials like e.g mercury that are dangerous for the environment.

    LED lights contain no toxic materials and are 100% recyclable, and will help you to reduce your carbon footprint by up to a third. The long operational life time span mentioned above means also that one LED light bulb can save material and production of 25 incandescent light bulbs. A big step towards a greener future!

    2. Durable Quality – LED Illumination Can Withstand Rough Conditions
    LEDs are extremely durable and built with sturdy components that are highly rugged and can withstand even the roughest conditions.

    Because LED lights are resistant to shock, vibrations and external impacts, they make great outdoor lighting systems for rough conditions and exposure to weather, wind, rain or even external vandalism, traffic related public exposure and construction or manufacturing sites.

    3. Zero UV Emissions – LED Lighting Features Close to No UV Emissions
    LED illumination produces little infrared light and close to no UV emissions.

    Because of this, LED lighting is highly suitable not only for goods and materials that are sensitive to heat due to the benefit of little radiated heat emission, but also for illumination of UV sensitive objects or materials such a in museums, art galleries, archeological sites etc.

    4. Operational in Extremely Cold or Hot Temperatures
    LED are ideal for operation under cold and low outdoor temperature settings. For fluorescent lamps, low temperatures may affect operation and present a challenge, but LED illumination operates well also in cold settings, such as for outdoor winter settings, freezer rooms etc.

    5. Low-Voltage – LED Lighting Can Run on Low-Voltage Power Supply
    A low-voltage power supply is sufficient for LED illumination. This makes it easy to use LED lighting also in outdoor settings, by connecting an external solar-energy source and is a big advantage when it comes to using LED technology in remote or rural areas.

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