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Lighting Balance

01.10.2015 /  Uncategorized

In the late 1880s, inventors and architects puzzled over new lighting technologies just as we try to make sense with the currently modern achievements of science. One of the grandest plans back then was to erect a 360 metre tower in the centre of Paris, fitted with arc lights that would illuminate the whole city with an “electric sun”, turning “night into day”. Of course, the design was not a success, and the city of Paris decided to go for the Eiffel Tower instead.

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Whilst Europe focused on functional street lighting instead, America did execute quite a few utopian projects of “city lighting”, trying to employ artificial suns from high towers. Detroit, for example, was lit from towertops for quite a few years before the residents admitted that this type of lighting was more of a statement than a helpful source of illumination.

The history of lighting keeps writing episodes of searching for the perfect light, most of this is related to replicating natural illumination. Our scientists are actively working on luminaires to have perfect colour rendering abilities, trying to create a light bulb that would show colours with no distortion. Major research is focused on adding power to our luminaires to compete with the high brightness of sunlight.

Obviously, it is not yet the time when artificial illumination is able to fully replace all natural lighting. There are many things about sunlight that we enjoy that electrical lights are not able to provide. Using daylight in a smart way is a large branch of lighting design that aims to create a holistic balance of sufficient illumination and pleasant atmosphere in our interiors, both extremely vital to our well-being.

Generally, the world can be divided into countries where there is never enough sunlight, and those where one needs to be protected from the excessive amount of sun. In both cases, electic lighting needs to supplement the lack or excess of natural light in a subtle, supportive way.

Too much sun

Whether it is because of large windows, elevated location or the general climate zone, too much sun can be a challenge for any interior. This is especially relevant in spaces designed for wellbeing where the comfort of an atmosphere is essential. The high intensity lighting from the windows can be blocked or softened with different types of blinds, films, curtains or drapes. Modern lighting control technologies are able to compensate for the asymmetric brightness, adjusting electrical lights according to their distance from the windows.

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Too little sun

With interior lighting that simulates daylight in terms of cool white colour and high intensity, it is possible to extend the daylight hours indoors, and create an illusion of natural illumination in spaces where sunlight is scarce. There are also available intelligent technologies that make it possible to transfer actual rays of sunlight from outdoors to indoors, travelling through optical fibres into windowless basements to bring on natural illumination in spaces where this used to be impossible.

Designing with sunlight

Depending on the purpose of spaces, sunlight can be a powerful tool for creating atmosphere and ambience. The presence of large amounts of sunlight can be energizing to a certain extent, for example at a poolside; however a decent amount of shade needs to be provided for variety. Most of the positive impacts of daylight have influence already when brightly lit surfaces are in our field of view. This means that we will feel better already when watching sunlit views while remaining in a soothing shade ourselves.

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