Design Concepts in Architectural Outdoor Lighting Design
"Shadow is the best friend of light" (author)
Architectural outdoor lighting design, as a process, is at the same time also darkness and shadow design. Darkness fascinates us as human beings, but its design needs exceptional skills, openmindedness and courage.
Let us imagine a hypothetical situation in which the lighting designer begins to design a lit environment with total darkness as the starting point. The lighting designer begins to remove, or eliminate, dark layers from the total black background, removing darkness layers one at the time, until the desired lighting degree on the designed surface (e.g. on a facade) is achieved. This kind of "shadow design" is a professional way to do lighting design.
The lighting designer is a shadow designer, who treats his/her task like an artist treats the canvas by painting gradations of darkness using light sparingly on illuminated surfaces, thereby using a whispering light palette as the design tool. Shadow design can be compared to oil painting techniques. French researchers studied Leonardo Da Vinci paintings, including Mona Lisa, to analyze the master's use of successive ultrathin layers of paint and glaze – a technique that gave his work their dreamy quality.
Almost 100 years of this intransigent technical lighting design era have made glary and high illumination level city structures a context for new lighting designs. The fascination of darkness is totally missing. The only way to succeed with such city structures is to dismantle the old lighting installations and start from darkness. Some cities are considering such lighting renovations in certain parts of the city structure.