The week that was 20-24th February 2017
Singapore, Week 20-24 February 2017
This week’s blogger is the third member of my “Charlie’s Angels” team, Amanda Yap. She has been with me for many, many years and is part of my trusted senior lighting designers at KLD. As with the others the blog is pretty much as she wrote it with some minor edits to maintain the original sprit of what Amanda wrote. While not glamorous it is a very real story of life at work as a lighting designer. Have a great weekend!
Amanda Yap, senior lighting designer
So, this week it is my turn to write the blog for Light Talk. It feels just like “yesterday” that I helped out Martin to create Light Talk’s blog layout template, exploring and understanding how these blogs work. Now it’s my turn to be one of the writers. 🙂
Singapore residential landscape renovation project
This is a project that requested our services to have a look at the existing landscape lighting and provide them with a recommendation for a ‘touch up” basically an upgraded lighting design. When Martin handed me this, I was worried and told him about my concern that the review of landscape area required someone with quite an experience in auditing of outdoor lighting (I had no previous experience in lighting audits) as well as an understanding of the nature of plants and typical outdoor lighting problems. But with Martin’s support assurance, I bravely took up this job and ended up reviewing the site a few times during the design process. Now, finally, this project is at the stage of awarding the contract to one of the tenderers.
With Martin’s support and together with my colleagues who came with me to the site to help me doing the surveys, we learned a lot. Before finalizing the tender award, we had requested for visual mock ups of specific areas on site. I had arranged for the light fitting deliveries on site and with the help of my colleagues Aishah and Jordan (for some extra manpower) we managed to have everything run smoothly that day. When finally the time for testing came we were all anxious and excited as we had waited for the night to arrive. Through careful location planning of the test areas we had managed to minimize time consuming moving around of the different light fitting types. The visual mock ups we did consisted lighting up a 30m high column and two different types of trees while testing out different aiming and mounting positions in the process. Each of the 3 tests was carried out 3 times (!) as we were evaluating light fitting submissions from 3 different tenderers.
Checking out other mounting positions and angles had become necessary as we found during the testing of the lighting effects that the original locations caused potential glare. Importantly the resident manager had joined us for the visual mock up sessions which allowed us to explain the differences between the different types of fixtures and show the different effects of varying colour temperatures. We were able to show that our proposed cooler colour temperature for the landscape trees enhanced the predominant tones of blue and green, allowing the leaves of the trees to look more lively and green. At the same time we demonstrated that the use of warmer colour temperatures left the leaves of the tree look a more unnatural yellowish green. The visual testing on site took us well over 2 hours but we are now confident that, as this project proceeds into installation, we will see a great end result.
Club houses in Desaru, Malaysia
Like Cheryline and Grace, I also went for my first overseas trip of the year (but by car instead of plane). My trip to Desaru was for 2 projects located close to each other in the same golf resort project. As both projects are coming to their completion, this site visit had as task to check if the site had been installing the lights as per our design specifications and to carry out some final testing and aiming on site. It was not my first visit to the project site and to be more efficient on site, I usually go with my colleague, Aishah. This trip generally takes 2 days and 1 night and we have to plan our time well as these 2 sites are not really within walking distance. To complicate things further they are not constructed and managed by the same group of people. The first thing we did when we reached Desaru (after a 2 + hour drive from Singapore), is to walk both sites thoroughly checking the lighting installation for design compliance, defects and outstanding works. Then only at night when it is dark we can continue to test and check the lighting effects. The main purpose of this trip for one of the sites was to test the dimming installation, but as we only found out on arrival the programmer couldn’t make it. While this is frustrating and seemingly very disrespectful, it is unfortunately quite common in Asia, even though it was confirmed prior to the trip. We will now have to postpone the fine tuning and programming of dimming scenes to a next trip, another additional cost for the client…
The truth with both project sites as with many in Asia is that there is not enough budget planned for lighting, whether by choice from the client or through inexperience of the QS and as a result almost all light fixtures installed on site were much cheaper alternative fixtures. It highlights the dilemma of lighting designers…stick to your specifications or compromise…In the process the contractor (also likely on a very tight budget) hopes that you will not be too picky and tell them that their lighting positions and fixture installations are acceptable. We have been to site many times and the same lighting issues that were highlighted before still look untouched and as bad as we had seen it the last time. Whenever we can we force the contractors to rectify it on the spot, one by one, with us beside them in order to get even simple things done like readjusting an interior or exterior light fixture.
Not surprisingly therefore our trip to Desaru ended with a long, long list of defects and outstanding works in our report. I hope that our next trip will be a more fruitful trip!