Essays About Lights

What about light wells (so loved by the ancients and Le Corbusier) and internal court yards?There are many ideas and techniques that have been forgotten about with the abundant cheap lighting and electricity that has been the norm for the past century.

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Over the past few years we have only stayed in a couple of hotel suites that are truly luxurious (the result of a fortuitous upgrade rather than a sudden influx of wealth! Whilst the furnishings, layout and other appointments were both upscale the bathroom experience in both was quite different and mainly to do with light.

The first one had natural daylight flooding in through diffused frosted glass that ran the entire length of the room. The second bathroom was internal with no natural light.

In my own research I am looking at alternative typologies for light fittings that use LEDs and have an acceptable light quality.

One idea (exhibited as part of the Artlight exhibition at the University of Technology, Sydney, in 2009) was to use the principle of refraction in a screen format to mediate and distribute the light from LEDs.

The technique of using light shelfs to reflect daylight into rooms from windows is rarely seen.

Saw-tooth type factory constructions which use natural light efficiently are being replaced with structures in which natural light is barely a concern.Now the lighting folks are hearing this whistle off in the distance and worrying that, since they don’t know where the train was headed, they may be run over.” One way the lighting industry is responding to the “runaway train” is making LED light fittings act as direct replacements for existing light sources.I believe this is setting up LEDs to fail – not in a technical sense but in an aesthetic and functional sense.Alvar Aalto used vertical skylights with diffuse angled surfaces to reflect every last photon of pale, horizontal light from the high latitude Nordic environments.Yet we in Australia, with an abundance of light all year round fail to use current and old techniques to create environments that allow us all to have the luxury of natural light.LEDs are essentially glary dots – many lumens pouring out of the size of a peppercorn.LEDs will struggle to deliver good light quality in a fitting that is designed for other light sources.But has our dependence on this nineteenth-century technology lessened our ability to deal with newer light sources when they come along?The LED (more formally known as solid-state lighting) story is marked by rapid development on the high-tech side and slow development in the form and design side.The reason there is an upsurge in interest can be put simply – energy efficiency and longevity.LEDs are the only light source that has the potential to convert all of the energy input into light.

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