Insight | Elements of (Light) Architecture

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08/02/2021: Our design process has, on certain projects, led to us proposing the inclusion of lighting objects that extend the story of the building or space. These interventions contribute more than illumination, and much more than simple decoration.

The need to consider a unique object often stems from solving an issue of both light and scale. In large volume spaces, the functional aspect of getting light where we want it can be a challenge, and the ‘emptiness’ of a void can appear unwelcoming. When we consider placing a lighting object in a space, it sparks the beginning of a creative development phase, not a simple selection process. The design of these ‘elements of light architecture’ are a blend of function as an optical instrument and form that is inherently a piece of architecture in terms of scale and materials.

In the tradition of early 20th century architectural design, when it was customary to design unique light objects for each project, they are not simply products - they cannot easily be replicated or taken out of context. Their presence is fundamental to the experience and identity of the architecture; such that if removed, the architecture would be incomplete.

In common with all his seminal ‘Prairie House’ designs, architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed the light fixtures throughout the Frederick C. Robie House as an integral part of the architecture, in terms of form, materiality and function (lit effect). Image Credit, James Caulfield courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.

In his design for the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, architect Louis Kahn working closely with lighting designer Richard Kelly, designed the vaulted ceilings to act as ‘natural light fixtures’, capturing sunlight and converting it to a silver tinted wash that bathes the building surfaces and occupants in soft cool light. Image Credit, Nic Lehoux courtesy of Kimbell Art Museum.

Our ‘elements of light architecture’ owe a debt of gratitude to the visionary clients who support the process. They are well beyond the realms of a ‘light fitting’, and they require a substantial amount of time and effort to realise them. They become vital to each space, making it all but impossible to imagine it without them.”

Aberdeen Art Gallery, UK

The custom pendant we created for the gallery’s Remembrance Hall is a pure expression of light. A simple circular design spanning 5.5 metres, it casts light up, down and sideways, aiding a clear understanding of the scale of the space and amplifying appreciation of the Hall.

Barangaroo South, Sydney, Australia

For the lobbies of the International Towers buildings, we proposed an abstracted modern interpretation of the ‘Chandelier’ idiom, realised in steel, perspex and LEDs. Precisely engineered to provide both expressive and functional light, the ‘Chandeliers’ also contribute to both the internal and external identity of the building. 

Maggie’s Centre, Lanarkshire, UK- 'Light Catchers'

Considering how we could aid daylight penetration into this low-height building, we conceived of the idea of a centrally positioned object that would act as a “lightcatcher”. Finished in highly polished and perforated gold metal, they bring focus to the central courtyard, reflecting dynamic light, shadow and scenery to enliven the internal spaces.

Queen Elizabeth Park, London, UK

The suspended moon-like spheres create a playful textured effect reminiscent of sunlight through a forest canopy. Balancing the aesthetic of the perforations with the resulting pattern of light and shadow, we crafted a lit effect that gently animates people as they stroll the pathway, while ensuring they feel safe and secure.

100 Liverpool Street, London, UK- 'Cloud'

The element we proposed for the atrium space contributes a dual sense of scale that helps to humanise the space, while equally emphasising the impressive volume. Drawn from the materiality of the architecture, perforations in the steel louvres create a distinctive textured lit effect, leading to the affectionate name ‘The Cloud’. 

Usher Hall, Edinburgh, UK Staircase Feature

Completely confident and pure, our centralised design for Usher Hall was designed to overcome the most fundamental difficulties of lighting a staircase while allowing the lines of the stair itself to remain uncompromised.