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Chapter 14: Artificial Light
Consider a strongly evocative interior space, one where the mood is immediately
striking, and chances are high that lighting played a central role in its design. In a
restaurant that is both cozy and contemporary, for instance, articial lighting will
inform the design features and the character of the space. Simple surfaces and
colors will have been selected to take best advantage of the light: Walls might be
a warm, buttery yellow, and mirrors and other reective surfaces used to throw the
focal glow of candles and soft light around the room.
Lighting design that creates a mood is based on an approach that is at odds with
lighting design that seeks evenly distributed and specic lighting levels. This kind
of perfect” all-over task lighting may be appropriate for exible ofce space, but it
fails to produce an imaginative setting for most other human activities. By under-
standing the specic tasks intended for a space, however, the designer can readily
determine the appropriate lighting strategies that will integrate function and inspira-
tion into a design.
Articial lighting is best examined according to the function it performs, typically described
space. Ideally, the ambient light source comes from different xtures that can be individually
controlled and dimmed depending on the time of day or amount of natural light available.
Accent lighting acts as a spotlight to illuminate a specic artwork, architectural detail, or piece
of furniture. Accent lights are typically low-voltage xtures that can be manually adjusted to
focus on a particular object. To avoid glare, the light source should be at a
the object.
Unlike ambient or accent lighting sources, chandeliers, wall scones, and lamps draw the eye
to themselves. These glowing objects serve as focal points in a room and, in fact, are often
referred to as
focal glow.
Task lighting provides light for a specic activity. In a typical ofce space, the light levels are
evenly distributed by a grid of uorescent xtures, but are usually supplemented with a task
light over each desktop. Different tasks require different lighting levels, for which there are
general recommendations. Lighting levels can be described in
how much light a lit candle would throw on a surface that is a foot away. The metric equivalent
is the lux.
Task Area Foot-candles Lux
Reading or Writing
Demonstration Lab
Computer Lab
Conference Room
Enclosed Ofce
Ofce Landscape
Corridor and Stairway
Arai Jackson Ellison Murakami, Veil Resaurant, Seattle; Studio Lumen, lighting design.
Photo by Richard Spry.
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