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Use Of Light in Contemporary Architectural Design

Light can signify everything from safety to sophistication, but it also plays an essential role in contemporary architectural design. 

Of course daylight is an important lighting source in architecture, and day lighting is an integral part of energy efficiency and the AIA Net Zero 2030 goal. Recognizing that reducing carbon emissions is vital to our planet, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is doing its part to help. The AIA Net Zero 2030 Commitment is a climate strategy that includes goals for reaching net zero emissions in the built environment.  Dean Larkin Design is also committed to a net zero approach and the firm’s designs are very energy efficient. Due to the careful siting, implementation of natural light in the firm’s designs, and placement of overhangs to control the sun, Dean Larkin Design projects are very energy efficient.

However, daylight is no longer the only source of light we see throughout the day, and that shift has changed the way architects design buildings.

Light is a Powerful Tool in Architectural Design

The use of light in contemporary architectural design has evolved from a basic functional requirement to an important aesthetic tool. In the past, electricity was too expensive and illumination was mainly provided by natural light during the day and gas lamps at night. In modern times, as our technology has progressed, we have become more conscious of the importance of daylight in our lives and its effect on our physical and mental health, as well as our productivity. Today, lighting is not only used to illuminate spaces; it has become an integral part of architectural design.

Light can be utilized to create an ambiance, change a mood or accentuate certain features of a space. But beyond the functional aspect of light, it can also serve as a design element in its own right in an architecture project.

Light has the power to completely transform a space and enhance the user experience; which is why considering your lighting options carefully when planning your next project is so important.

Textured glass wall leading tobathroom with outdoor views | Light in Contemporary Architecture | Dean Larkin Design

Types of Light in Contemporary Architectural Design

There are many ways to use light in design, including passive or active strategy, natural and artificial sources, and static or dynamic control.

Passive and Active Lighting Design

Passive lighting design is more of an ongoing strategy that uses the layout of the space to allow for sunlight to filter in through windows and skylights. This approach requires proper planning at the beginning of a project.

Active lighting design relies on additional elements such as lamps, spotlights and other lighting fixtures to add light into a space that would otherwise be lacking. This type of lighting is more flexible than passive lighting, but requires more hardware installation.

Natural and Artificial Lighting

Lighting can be split into two broad categories: natural and artificial. Natural lighting usually involves sun exposure during daytime hours; however, this type of light will vary throughout the day based on weather conditions and time of year. Artificial lighting involves electric lights and also includes LED technology.

bedroom with wall length glass door and large windows | Light in Contemporary Architecture | Dean Larkin Design
Latimer | Living Room | Dean Larkin Design
dining room with outdoor views and colored glass chandelier | Light in Contemporary Architecture | Dean Larkin Design

Light Can Have Significant Impacts on Human Health

Architects have long been concerned with how to bring natural light into the built environment. In addition to its aesthetic value, light is essential for human health and well-being. Natural light can improve sleep and help regulate circadian rhythms, reduce stress levels, and improve mood and productivity.

Architectural science has pioneered some of the most groundbreaking innovations in lighting design. The use of natural light in buildings can be traced back to the earliest permanent structures. However, the last 200 years have seen substantial growth in technological advancements to enhance indoor lighting systems.

Today’s architects are challenged with designing spaces that accommodate new technologies, like smart lighting systems, as well as increased demands for sustainable building materials and energy efficient conservation practices.

The Effect of Light on Materials

The effect of light on materials is a focal point of modern designs. Good lighting is a key factor in creating a pleasant ambiance at home or workplace. One can create a comfortable, inviting, and warm atmosphere with the use of appropriate light. Lighting also has the power to change the appearance of a space and affect our moods and emotions.

Lighting and Materials

Lighting can bring out the beauty of a material and make it appear more appealing in its design context. The play of light on surfaces can enhance and complement the material used, especially with the help of mirrors or light reflectors to brighten up dark areas.

In contemporary interior design, translucent materials are widely used to create interesting effects with lighting. Glass, plastic, fabric, and other translucent materials allow light to pass through them, creating soft luminosity that makes the interiors look airy and spacious. These materials are often used with specific thought to the light in contemporary architectural design to soften the harshness of brickwork or concrete structures.

Mickys bathroom with lighted opaque panels at sinks | Lighting in Contemporary Architecture | Dean Larkin Design

Lighting Can Impact How Users Feel About a Space

“Lighting is the single most important aspect of architecture.”

That’s what architect Frank Lloyd Wright said, and it’s as true today as it was in the early 20th century.
Lighting can significantly impact how users feel about their experience in a space, so it’s important for architects to take this into consideration when making decisions about illumination for their projects.
The right lighting can guide people through a building, direct attention to certain areas and make an area more aesthetically pleasing. The wrong lighting can have an equally powerful effect, making people uncomfortable or distracting them from what they’re seeing or doing.

“Since the beginning of time, we have always understood the effect that light has on us,” says Andrew Schachtel, a lighting designer at KGM Architectural Lighting. “It affects our physiology and our state of mind. It has the power to change our perception of space.”

Contact Dean Larkin for Exceptional Contemporary Design in California

Light in contemporary architectural design should be considered carefully by architects. Dean Larkin Design was established in Los Angeles in 1999 and this modern architecture firm maximizes the intrinsic potential of a location, including its available natural light sources and views. Dean Larkin is very familiar with both historical and contemporary design in the entire Los Angeles area, and the firm endeavors to achieve a complexity that is multi-layered with an effortless elegance. For a design that is modern and innovative, unlocks your location’s innate potential by making specific use of light, views and more, and uniquely designed for the way you live, contact Dean Larkin for a consultation.