New Dimensions in Architectural Lighting

by Mihaela Lica - Date: 2007-01-11 - Word Count: 642 Share This!

The marriage between architecture and digital media led to a new discipline: mediatecture. This term doesn't refer solely to architecture and media, but defines the synergy of different technologies: building, lighting, engineering, etc. Creative use of these technologies takes the concept of architectural design a step further, practically opening new windows to the future, leaping from traditional buildings to multimedia buildings: more functional, more stylish, interactive and even controllable. Illumination, among other factors, plays an important role in this revolution and LEDs are the little wonders that lead architectural lighting to its new level.

The use of LED light systems was widely exploited in architectural projects, often for simple beautification purposes, mostly for very practical reasons. Conferring more than just "illumination", LEDs also create exciting light effects that enhance architectural projects with dynamic avant-garde design possibilities. The well-known advantages of LEDs and their practical aspects are one thing. Equally important, however, is the potential of employing LEDs for creating "communication" channels. The use of LEDs provides for modular concepts, flexible applications and a full range of control options (dimming, color mixing, creating innovative lighting patterns).

Modern structural design uses LEDs in ambient lighting, accent lighting, exterior and interior lighting. But that's not all. The trend moves towards multimedia. This gives media artists and architects the possibility to extend multimedia applications to the inhabited spaces, and the interfaces are not limited at walls. The multimedia architecture seizes whole buildings and even seeks to conquest complex urban structures. There are no limits. Mediatecture is not a recent invention. Attempts to enhance buildings with light, color and sound can even be found at the end of the 50s.

The Philips Pavilion is one early example of multimedia architecture. In 1958, at the Brussels World Fair, the pavilion hosted a futuristic multimedia event called "Poème Electronique": light, sound and images. It was one of the first events that inspired the modern mediatecture. The many sophisticated developments across the world are the certain proof that the cityscapes of the future are going to be dramatically different compared to the urban realities from today. The multimedia buildings will be able to respond to the users' needs, mostly like we see in various sci-fi movies.

The T-Com Haus in Berlin is such a multimedia building. With a palm computer users can control all the domestic appliances: lights, TV, radio, heating, alarm systems, washing machine, dishwasher, etc. The house is programmed to record video messages from visitors when the proprietors are not at home and to display them on a panel at the entrance, together with other news.

Controllable LED lighting systems create a special atmosphere in each room and the exterior of the building is enhanced by with LED systems developed by my-tronic GmbH.

In many domestic residences and commercial buildings the Mood Lights from Traxon Technologies are already customary. And who hasn't heard of Color Kinetics, the world's top leader for creative LED lighting solutions? Other well-known names, often associated with the new lighting trends, are Lutron (providing solutions for controlling both natural and artificial lighting), Martin Architectural, Barco and Element Labs. And sure you are familiar with the gigantic video panels scattered on tops of the world's most important buildings or in highly visible places.

These panels will probably cease to exist, because mediatecture employs the complete façades of the buildings either to communicate media messages or for simple beautification purposes. The concept of "multimedia façade" becomes more and more popular. LEDs are highly versatile for such uses, but still an expensive choice. LED pixels or LED systems for large multimedia walls have been developed by some of the above mentioned companies, but this is still a territory opened to development and innovation. All in one, the modern architectural landscape is changing. We can only wait and see whether the new dimensions of the architectural lighting are going to "conquer" the world or not.

Related Tags: architectural lighting, led lighting, multimedia facades, leds, led light systems, mediatecture

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