LED Fo­cus

Cre­at­ing ef­fec­tive and at­trac­tive light­ing for fa­cades of build­ings

Electronics Bazaar - - Contents - By Baishakhi Dutta

Façade light­ing un­der­lines the ar­chi­tec­ture and em­pha­sises the key fea­tures of a build­ing’s el­e­va­tion. With­out the in­ter­play of light and shadow, the front of a build­ing would look flat if lit only by a sin­gle layer of bright light.

Beau­ti­fully-lit build­ings look good and en­hance the sur­round­ings. Large com­pa­nies up­grade their build­ings with such light­ing, which at­tracts em­ploy­ees and cus­tomers. The ap­peal­ing town­scape, in turn, at­tracts tourists and in­vestors like a mag­net. How­ever, the light­ing so­lu­tions used need to be sus­tain­able, con­serv­ing re­sources and pre­vent­ing un­nec­es­sary light pol­lu­tion.

Well ex­e­cuted façade light­ing can ac­tu­ally change the way we look at build­ings. A smart, yet re­source­sav­ing com­bi­na­tion of façade light­ing meets func­tional and artis­tic re­quire­ments, cre­ates new ur­ban spa­ces and con­trib­utes a unique qual­ity to how a town or city’s ar­chi­tec­ture is en­joyed at night. One of the most chal­leng­ing tasks in il­lu­mi­na­tion engi­neer­ing is de­sign­ing good façade light­ing schemes for old her­itage mon­u­ments.

The dif­fer­ent façades that can be lit up

A façade’s form ap­pears dif­fer­ent, based on the light that falls on it, its di­rec­tion and colour. The ap­pear­ance of a façade al­ters dur­ing the course of the day due to the chang­ing di­rec­tion of light, and the vary­ing com­po­nents of dif­fused and di­rect light.

Solid façades: On wall sur­faces that are smooth with no tex­ture, how sun­light or ar­ti­fi­cial light pro­gresses across the sur­face, can be­come the dom­i­nat­ing fea­ture of the fa­cade. Large, uni­form sur­faces can be given struc­ture with pat­terns of light.

Ver­ti­cally di­vided façades: Nar­row beams of light in­ten­sify the ef­fect of the ver­ti­cal di­vi­sion. The com­bi­na­tion of up­lights and down­lights can aug­ment the ver­ti­cal di­vi­sion of the fa­cade by light­ing a build­ing from above and below.

Hor­i­zon­tally di­vided façades: Long, heavy shad­ows cast by hor­i­zon­tal di­vi­sions in a build­ing’s fa­cade can be re­duced by in­creas­ing the off­set of the lu­mi­naire from the façade. The steeper an­gle of in­ci­dence for the light in the up­per re­gions of the façade will cast longer shad­ows than in the lower area.

Façades with pro­ject­ing or re­cessed sec­tions: Dif­fer­en­ti­ated il­lu­mi­nance lev­els, light dis­tri­bu­tion and light colours add rhythm to the ap­pear­ance of such façades. In­creas­ing the lu­mi­naire off­set from the façade re­duces the for­ma­tion of heavy shad­ows. The lu­mi­naire ar­range­ment in such build­ings should cor­re­spond to how the façade has been di­vided.

Per­fo­rated façades: Dur­ing the day, the win­dow sur­faces ap­pear dark in such build­ings. At night,

il­lu­mi­nated in­te­ri­ors pro­vide a strong con­trast be­tween the dark façade sur­face and bright win­dows. Lu­mi­naires shin­ing into the in­te­rior im­pair the view out of the build­ing and should be avoided.

• Banded façades: In these build­ings, too, dur­ing the day, the

strip of win­dows ap­pears dark. Il­lu­mi­nat­ing the in­door ar­eas at night cre­ates a strong con­trast be­tween dark façade sur­faces and a bright strip of win­dows. Light­ing on the balustrades can aug­ment the hor­i­zon­tal struc­tures. Trans­par­ent façades: The vis­ual per­spec­tive from the ground

Ex­perts’ views

“Flood­lights in fa­cade light­ing can be seen as be­ing in sync with na­ture, with the fo­cus on na­ture-in­spired light­ing themes. In In­dia, the prob­lem is that con­tem­po­rary fa­cade de­sign has com­pletely dis­tanced it­self from the past. When de­sign works to cre­ate an iden­tity for the de­signer, it is be­cause the work is not vis­i­ble but the idea is. We are all very fond of the ‘new’ but there is noth­ing that grows old faster than what was once con­sid­ered ‘new’. Fa­cade light­ing does not be­long to a par­tic­u­lar style and hence will re­main time­less, never go­ing out of style.”

—Devashish Gan­guly, DGM, Havells Light­ing

“When it comes to fa­cade light­ing, the trend we see in the mar­ket is that unique build­ings are be­ing high­lighted by us­ing var­i­ous colour-chang­ing schemes, mainly be­cause this looks great when com­pared to nor­mal light­ing. The In­dian façade light­ing in­dus­try is in the growth stage, both in terms of the ma­te­ri­als and tech­nol­ogy be­ing used. In spite of the chal­lenges, which will take some time to be ad­dressed, there is a grow­ing ac­cep­tance of qual­ity prod­ucts in the In­dian mar­ket. In the last 1.5 years, we have seen an over­all in­crease of 35-40 per cent in the sale of LED fa­cade light­ing. Ma­jor prod­ucts like wall wash­ers, flood­lights, etc, are bulky in size but the in­dus­try is grad­u­ally mov­ing to­wards minia­turised prod­ucts, be­cause cus­tomers no longer want the bulky lights to be vis­i­ble since they do not look nice. They pre­fer great il­lu­mi­na­tion for the build­ings us­ing hid­den light sources.”

—Sam­ridh Ke­dia, di­rec­tor, Glowz LED Light­ing

“The trend nowa­days is to opt for prod­ucts that are com­pact and, at the same time, eco­nom­i­cal. An im­por­tant cur­rent re­quire­ment for the façade light­ing of her­itage mon­u­ments is the colour ren­der­ing in­dex (CRI). Cus­tomers tend to fo­cus more on higher CRI LED prod­ucts since they ren­der the orig­i­nal colours of the mon­u­ments bet­ter, apart from pro­vid­ing bet­ter vis­i­bil­ity at even lower lux lev­els.”

—Ra­jeev K. Ro­hatgi, di­rec­tor, Bi­nay Opto Elec­tron­ics Pvt Ltd

“As far as fa­cade light­ing is con­cerned, in In­dia, we are a ‘value for money’ econ­omy. Indians do not like to spend too much on aes­thet­ics, although there are cer­tain lux­ury hous­ing projects and high-end cor­po­rate houses, for which the de­sign­ers are opt­ing for fa­cade light­ing. As far as minia­tur­i­sa­tion is con­cerned, we need to un­der­stand that, in In­dia, con­sumer aware­ness and knowl­edge about LED us­age is com­par­a­tively low. People have lim­ited ex­po­sure and hence are not aware of the im­por­tant pa­ram­e­ters to keep in mind prior to choos­ing a good prod­uct or of how to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween the good and the bad.”

—Vi­mal Soni, di­rec­tor, Corvi LED makes the light­ing ef­fect of the in­door area ap­pear larger with up­lights than with down­lights. Lines of light in the ceil­ing area of the in­di­vid­ual floors un­der­line the hor­i­zon­tal struc­ture of the build­ing. Up­lights can em­pha­sise the ver­ti­cal el­e­ments of the façade.

Cur­rent mar­ket trends

As tech­nol­ogy ad­vances, fa­cade light­ing is grad­u­ally fol­low­ing the trend of minia­tur­i­sa­tion. Other new trends in­clude the me­dia façade, which refers to a mode of light­ing with the help of which light sources are in­te­grated into the front face of a build­ing. This light­ing method bor­rows from the dig­i­tal me­dia for­mat of dis­play­ing graph­ics, text and even video im­ages on a build­ing at night, vis­ually trans­form­ing its fa­cade after dark. This method is now be­ing recog­nised as a new field in vis­ual and spa­tial art that over­comes the struc­tural lim­i­ta­tions of rigid ar­chi­tec­ture. It uses the colours of light to en­hance the best fea­tures of the build­ing. In short, the ar­chi­tec­ture of the façade is ef­fec­tively used as a can­vas to dis­play me­dia and dig­i­tal art on a large scale.

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