Quantitative lighting design
The American Electric Light Tower (San José 1885)
With the advent of electrical lighting, obtaining illuminance levels similar to those of daylight became a question of how much technical effort one was prepared to invest. At the end of the 19th century, one attempt at providing street lighting was to mount floodlights on lighting towers. However, the glare and harsh shadow produced caused more disadvantages than advantages and so this form of outdoor lighting was soon abandoned.
Whereas inadequate light sources were the main problem initially, a prime concern later on was how to sensibly deal with the overabundance of light. Increasing industrialisation gave rise to intensive studies in the field of workplace lighting, investigating the influence of illuminance levels and lighting type on production efficiency. The studies resulted in extensive rules and regulations governing the minimum illuminance levels, the qualities of colour rendition and glare limitation. This catalogue of standards was to serve as a guideline for lighting far beyond the area of the workplace; in fact, it still determines the practice of lighting design right up to the present day. However, this approach left the psychology of perception totally unconsidered. The issues of how people perceive structures clearly and how lighting also conveys an aesthetic effect were beyond the scope of the quantitative lighting rules and regulations.