Learning the significance of lighting Design at ARUP

We recently were given the opportunity to visit ARUP, a global engineering firm who have worked on projects such as the Sydney Opera House, several Olympic stadiums and The Shard, to name just a few. We met Melissa Mark who is a lighting designer at ARUP and she talked us through the importance of artificial and natural lighting in different settings. 

Melissa talked us through some of the buildings and spaces ARUP and her team have worked on including the Broad Museum in Los Angeles. A lighting designer has to consider what the room will look like 24 hours a day, in periods of sunlight, overcast weather and in the night when no natural light is available. The ceiling of the museum has a curved texture that allowed lots of natural light to fill the space, without the intensity of direct sunlight. The curved surfaces bounce light throughout the room meaning little artificial light is needed during daylight hours. The shape of the facade and the roof has been carefully engineered so the light levels can be filtered to achieve a particular effect. Lighting designers like Melissa have to consider the function of a space, and as this is a contemporary arts Museum, the lighting has to showcase the work in the best possible way.

 The Broad, contemporary arts museum in Downtown L.A. 

The Broad, contemporary arts museum in Downtown L.A. 

The YAS hotel in Abu Dhabi is one of the worlds largest LED projects and Melissa talked us through the possibilities of LED lighting. The hotel is covered in a 'blanket' of LED lights which can be completely customised to display different colours and graphics. This lets lighting designers constantly change the look of the building by programming different lights patterns. It makes the building adaptable to different events and scenarios. 

 YAS Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

YAS Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

At Apple Regent Street in London, lighting designers at Foster + Partners have used clever techniques to keep the store bright without the need for direct ceiling lights. Intense lights are pointed upwards onto a mirrored surface, the mirrored surface then reflects the light down towards the store, and a white film defuses the lights to give the store a natural look that simulates daylight. The light in the store can be changed to match the daylight conditions on a particular day giving customers a completely seamless experience when they walk from the naturally lit street into the artificially lit store. 

 The newly renovated Apple Regent Street by Foster + Partners.

The newly renovated Apple Regent Street by Foster + Partners.

Since meeting Melissa at ARUP, I have a much greater understanding and appreciation of lighting designers and the role lighting plays in our everyday lives. This is really important because the lighting scenario can directly affect peoples moods and a modern city needs lighting that you can provide citizens with the best living, working, travel and shopping environments. When indoor lighting is correctly engineered it becomes invisible as the conditions are perfect for that particular space. Adaptable lighting that ensures buildings look their best 24 hours a day and make the most of natural light are becoming a more common every day.

As part of my Graphic design communication course, we got to choose a completely separate topic that we would explore for a few weeks. I choose a topic called The Smart City where we explored the technology and innovations that help create modern day and future cities. This post was written specifically for this project.

Adam Marsh