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How lighting can transform your space!

Lighting affects moods and perception.

Lighting can become a lot more than just an illuminator; it becomes a mood setter, a look into a specific emotion that the architect is trying to convey.

Light can be used as a code - a unit of information that alludes to a specific identity in a space. It has even been known to influence human behavior with the introduction of different lighting types.

Lighting is typically categorized in "ambient, task, accent and decorative lighting". Each category serves a different purpose, so when designing a space, it is important to understand how different light levels can complement each other and influence the environment inside the interior space.

Here are a few key aspects of lighting to pay attention to in order to transform your space:

Intensity - Bright light vs Dim

When we sit in a very brightly lit room at a table in contrast to a setting where the warm glow of candles illuminates the scenery, it feels like someone has confronted us with a bang versus an intimate and gentle touch. The impact of light and shadow for a spatial identity is particularly interesting for projects which strive for a narrative component like the retail and hospitality environment.

The beam vs the reflection

The lighting element can be split into its individual parts to better understand how it functions: The direct beam and the reflection. The direct beam is the slash of light that can cut across a room, drawing your eye in a particular direction. The light will then bounce off of the surfaces, adding more movement and life to the space. This concept is crucial to establishing hierarchy and order within your room! Shine the light on important surfaces and let the less important details fall into the shadows.

The play with diffused and directed light can also be regarded as a medium to communicate either a soft atmosphere, for instance with the signs of diffuse luminous ceilings or rich in contrast mood with clear glass roofs or slots for direct sunlight.


This is perhaps the most dramatic of all of the lighting characteristics. In lighting, color temperature refers to the amount of orange vs blue tint added to the white light: warm light has a more orange hue whereas cool light has a more blue tint to it. Architects tend to use the color temperature of lighting in their interiors in two distinct ways:

Warm Light - Use warm white lighting fixtures in your residential spaces to create a cozy atmosphere!

Cool Light - Use neutral or cool white light to boost energy and productivity in offices, classrooms, and other commercial spaces.

You don't have to stop here! Some architects amplify these hues and add tints to create a specific atmosphere.

Take a look at these 12 projects, featured in Archdaily, to get inspired for your next project!

Appartement Spectral / BETILLON / DORVAL‐BORY

A small Parisian studio renovation project in which the lack of natural light led the client to ask the architects to intervene in regards to artificial light. The team chose to adopt a "radical and binary approach" by studying the spectral qualities of two different sources of artificial light. They explored the spectral qualities of the house's various light sources, and then created an architecture that uses their features. The apartment is designed in a simple and neutral manner, leaving the architectural expression to be generated by light.

A Guy, his Bulldog, a Vegetable Garden, and the Home they Share / HUSOS

This 46-square-meter refurbishment project is for an ER doctor and his bulldog. Since the client’s work hours are very inconsistent, he catches up on sleep after night shifts by taking long naps during the day. Therefore, instead of focusing on the bedroom as the only place to sleep, the architects created a capsule-periscope for taking siestas in the living room as an alternative to the bedroom. The capsule also allows to receive casual intimate acquaintances, since it is a norm in homosexual sex culture in Madrid to reserve the bedroom for closer relationships, as explained by the architects.

D-Edge / Muti Randolph + Marcelo Pontes + Zemel + Chalabi Arquitetos

D-Edge electronic music club underwent a restoration process in early 2011. The restoration aimed to expand the house, as it could no longer welcome the amount of people every day. According to Muti, the architecture " is an immersive experience in which the audience experiences the sound waves. The architecture of the space changes according to the music." The lighting implemented in the interior spaces create dynamic shapes and colors that correspond to the music and transform according to the beat being played.

Rombo IV / Miguel Angel Aragonés

The Rombo's is a private space with three houses and a studio in a central and tree-lined area of Mexico City called Bosques de las Lomas. The architect left aside the touch and expression of materials, creating an all-white structure, that is ornamented by natural light and the surrounding landscape during the day, and vibrant artificial light during the night.

James Turrell: Rendering for Aten Reign installation, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

American artist James Turrell is notable for his fascination with light. He explains that light is not a tool to enable vision but rather something to look at itself. To heighten the light experience of a uniform blue sky, Turrell erases the gradation near the horizon; stating that “…if you go to the Rocky Mountains, to a high altitude where it is cold, you see sky that is such a crisp blue you feel that you could cut it and put it in cubes! That is the kind of sky I want, and I have been able to get it by selecting the altitude. There are gradations near the horizon where the blue is lighter, and then gradually, toward the zenith, it gets deep. With Roden Crater I have taken out the first fifteen degrees of height by aiming the tunnel sight lines above that level. At that point you see thirty degrees less than one hundred eighty degrees. That is how you get that incredible color – by eliminating all of the white at the horizon.”

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