best practice architectural design

Singapore, 7th September 2012

Recently I read a paper from Kit Cuttle in which he makes a plea to divide the lighting design profession into “best practice” and “architectural” lighting designers or as he states, visibility as the purpose of lighting versus appearance as the purpose of lighting. While I have great respect for Kit and understand his reasoning to differentiate between two approaches, I personally do not agree that it should be divided into two different practices, on the contrary. I can’t see how the one can exist without the other, even more, how one can be practiced without (understanding) the other. We don’t design for lux meters, we design for people and regardless how important best practice design is, without integrating it creatively with the human aspect of light and lighting, I don’t see how one can be just a “best practice” or an “architectural” lighting designer. I may be seeing it to black and white as between an engineered or a creative designed approach. But the truth is in lighting design you need the creative part to make the engineered part liveable. If the world around us was dictated by engineers only it would be a weird place…I am sure you could “see” everything, but whether it would be a visually appealing and stimulating environment is another question!

To push it to the ridiculous…Years ago a client told us off and insisted we redo the lighting design because our lighting calculations showed one point (!) with 19 lux while the requirement was no lighting level below 20 lux…really? First of all we can’t see the difference between 19 or 20 lux, secondly we don’t even see lux or lumens per square meter, we see reflections! Where is the interaction with material finishes, colours, structures, patterns, sizes, shapes and forms to name a few? And yes sometimes we have to push the envelope and brake some rules or standards in order to achieve a total design that satisfies and is in harmony with both the best practice and the architectural approaches.

In my world a good lighting designer needs to be both and fully knowledgeable of both approaches in order to create a holistic lighting design that satisfies all human and technical needs. Being either one or the other can’t be the way…

Light Watch 3-136: Best practice architectural designer…? I guess we can agree to disagree…have a great weekend!


08. September 2012 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: Education, light and art, Light and inspiration, light watch, lighting and culture, lighting design, lighting design practice, lighting standards | 1 comment

One Comment

  1. This reminds me of Peter Boyce’s editorial in the June 2012 issue of Lighting Research and Technology. “Indifferent” lighting is merely safe and efficient but does not “lift the spirit”.

    Maybe we have to show the difference between “best practice” and “architectural” so people can fully appreciate the human aspect of lighting?

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