Design-led exterior lighting
Exterior lighting has a number of functions. It enables us to move from A to B at night. It can also be used to enhance architecture, to make public places safer and more attractive, improve way-finding and to provide task lighting. This does not mean that more lighting is better lighting. Allowing for some shadow and variation of light levels is an important part of creating an holistic night time experience. And a balanced lighting scheme will also avoid invasive light spill and other forms of light pollution.
Developing exterior lighting usually flows through several stages:-
Understanding the project, concept and client brief
The reasons why exterior lighting is being enhanced or instigated often provides a framework for developing ideas. Sometimes the need is purely commercial, such as adding signage and feature lighting to make a building more noticeable; sometimes the priority is to enhance a work of art – or a building/space that is perceived as a work of art.
Understanding the site
It is essential to understand the existing conditions and limitations of a site in order co-ordinate exterior lighting with buildings and hard and soft infrastructure. This usually involves a site survey and access to any “as installed” information. In the case of listed or prominent buildings, planning applications may be necessary and for this it is vital to understand how to comply with the relevant guidelines.
A master plan is created, taking into account the client’s brief, product/business brand and site conditions.
The plan will include techniques for the following:
Ease of way-finding–vehicular and pedestrian – putting the right amount of glare-free light in the right place.
Minimising light pollution – considering the environmental impact on existing wildlife and surrounding built environment.
Emphasis on and highlighting of architecture and/or landscape features.
Signs; location and integration with exterior lighting scheme
Balancing of light in different areas.
Control – hours of operation.
Different lighting scenes according to the time of year and hours of operation of the space.
Modelling and testing out ideas
Once all these different aspects have been agreed in principle it may be necessary to prove the effects using 3D modelling or actual lighting tests.
Bringing the scheme to fruition
Finally, once the building or environment is completed we can supervise the aiming, focussing and creation of lighting scenes so that a new night time vista can emerge.
Below: lighting tests for established landscapes