Your free myERCO account allows you to mark items, create product lists for your projects and request quotes. You also have continuous access to all ERCO media in the download area.


You have collected articles in your watchlist

Technical environment

Technical environment

Global standard 220V-240V/50Hz-60Hz
Standard for USA/Canada 120V/60Hz, 277V/60Hz
  • 中文

Our contents are shown to you in English. Product data is displayed for a technical region using USA/Canada 120V/60Hz, 277V/50Hz-60Hz.

Light and life in space

Light and life in space

ERCO and the photographer Iwan Baan have started to collaborate for the first time, documenting the Louvre-Lens. Baan’s documentary photography of architecture characterised by the portrayal of people made him an international shooting star of architectural photography. His style ties in with the consistent approach of the “Light Factory”. We look back on the development of this visual language – and its influence on our storytelling of tomorrow.

Outstanding architecture and great works of art become the backdrop for normal people who take over such spaces spontaneously. This is how architectural photographer Iwan Baan sees the new Louvre Lens – masterminded by SANAA Architects – in ERCO light. His narrative approach to photography disregards the paradigms of typical architectural photography that had become established in the latter half of the 20th century. Influenced by paragons such as Julius Shulman or Ezra Stoller, architectural photography generally delivered geometrical, often symmetrical, wide angled views with a rigid, carefully rectified perspective. It abstracted, stylised and, as a result, created distance between structure and observer. People were, at best, a decorative accessory, not an emancipated user or, better still, an interpreter of architecture. This dogma, from a technical aspect, was represented by the large format camera mounted on a heavy tripod.

Light and life in space
Light and life in space

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, 1997. Photographer: Thomas Mayer.
ERCO’s perspective: Rather than searching for hours for a view that isolates the building optimally, the photographer embeds it in a context. Here, it is the significance of the museum for urban development in Bilbao, known as the “Bilbao effect”.

Office of the Federal Chancellor, Berlin, 2000. Photographer: Rudi Meisel
Photographic documentation of the entire construction process widens the focus onto the relationship between creator and creation.

Life in space - an alternative to stylised architectural photography
This concept was so dominant in the 1970s that any deviation from it was guaranteed attention. Precisely this was just one of the aims ERCO CEO Klaus-Jürgen Maack and designer Otl Aicher had in mind when seeking a distinct photographic approach for the company, as ERCO began to shape its characteristic image from 1974. The ERCO Lichtbericht first published in 1977 was to be a customer magazine designed to stand out aesthetically from all existing architectural journals. In addition, Maack and Aicher deemed a journalistic style of reportage photography more appropriate in capturing light and architecture. Light, the immaterial stuff of building after all, adds a dynamic element to otherwise static architecture: life comes into focus. Man, his perception of space and his requirements in the use of architecture are at the forefront of every image.

Light and life in space
Light and life in space

New York Times Building, New York, 2007. Photographer: Frieder Blickle
Privileged access: ERCO’s close relationship to designers and builders, coupled with the journalistic professionalism of the photographers, allows for situations and images that are denied to other media.

Royal Ascot racecourse, Ascot, renovation 2006. Photographer: Rudi Meisel
Humour: A rather rare sight in typical architectural photography, for ERCO part of the human existence, as Rudi Meisel contrasts the techno-modernism of the grandstand in Ascot from the “Cool Britannia” era with the traditional behaviour patterns of the guests.

Using this visual language in such natural manner today took ERCO years of collaboration with photographers. In the first years of the Lichtbericht, architectural reportage had not yet gained the importance it was to have later – it shared the space with a liberal variety of topics involving light in life, work and art so typical of magazines. ERCO therefore recruited young photographers hailing from Otto Steinert’s legendary photography class at the Folkwang School of Design in Essen and from the ranks of GEO and Stern reporters – including such remarkable personalities as Timm Rautert, Rudi Meisel, Thomas Mayer, Dirk Reinartz, Frieder Blickle or Michael Wolf, some of whom were to become regulars working with the company for many decades. One aspect they all had in common was their narrative talent – the gift of telling a story entirely through images. Their creativity was channelled only by few parameters. The first priority was always the sequence, not the single image. 35mm format and slide film material were a requirement, if only to ensure lean production processes.

Simultaneously, ERCO as the procurer gained expertise in photo editing and layout that expressed great respect for the creative decisions of the photographers. The original image section was considered untouchable, technical manipulations were taboo. The publications created under these conditions had a fresh, timeless quality, yet also documented Zeitgeist and architectural history – a case in point is the Lichtbericht 57 published in 1997, which presented the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (photo) with photos by Thomas Mayer.

Light and life in space
Light and life in space

MACBA, Barcelona, 1995. Photographer: Thomas Mayer
The ideal ERCO photo: space, man, light in correlation with each other.

Louvre glass pyramid, Paris, 1989. Photographer: Lars Christ
Architecture as a process: the development process and the parties involved in it are as important in ERCO’s architectural reportage as the completed building.

The evolution of a visual language
Despite the significant status which ERCO achieved with its photographic approach in the world of architecture and design, this approach was always open to development, driven by the technical possibilities and the personalities of those involved. Classic black and white photography came as much into its own as did the style of reportage on colour negative material emerging in the 1990s with its advanced options in adjusting the colour scheme of a series. Using different photo media made it possible to follow parallel narrative threads within a large project, such as in the Lichtbericht issues reporting from different perspectives on the construction and lighting projects involving the Reichstag and Office of the Federal Chancellor (photo) in Berlin.

Light and life in space
Light and life in space

Al Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, 2007. Photographer: Charles Corwell, Black Star.
Photography as access to the cultures of a globalised world. Photography that reflects its media character: an intellectual standard by which ERCO’s photography must be judged.

Art Situation, Bochum, 2006. Photographer: Thomas Pflaum
Art and the observer – a standing topic in ERCO’s photography. The timelessness of ancient exhibits contrasts the presence of young visitors.

ERCO’s photographers confronted the digital revolution with varying approaches, particularly as the technology of the digital 35mm camera, and specifically the option of flexible white balance, soon brought about a tremendous progress in the photography of light in space. When faced with unusually extreme lighting conditions, such as on the construction site of the New York Times Building by Renzo Piano (photo), digital technology offered experts such as Frieder Blickle new scope for photographic design.

Beyond the mainstream
A stringently maintained position – be it in architecture, art or photography – does not conform to every Zeitgeist. In this way, ERCO’s architectural reportages exposed without mercy the fact that some structures of the postmodern era focused excessively on visual stimuli and iconic appearance. Even within the photo scene, the journalistic style of narrative imagery adopted by ERCO’s photographers often went beyond the mainstream, which, since the boom of artistic photography in the 1990s favoured corresponding positions. There were, nevertheless, always some young photographers who identified with this approach – including Dirk Vogel, Edgar Zippel, Sabine Wenzel or Alexandra Lechner.

Light and life in space
Light and life in space

Centre Pompidou, Paris, renovation 2000. Photographer: Martin Müller
A building, portrayed a thousand of times over and familiar, it seems, to the observer. The perspective of the photographer discovers new stories, creates an emotional atmosphere.

Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, 1996. Photographer: Michael Wolf
The journalistic approach of ERCO’s photographers does not keep the observer at a distance: rather, it allows him to immerse in architecture and the life within.

Those architects however, who, for their part, thought procedurally, in social contexts and open systems, quickly recognised the advantages of this type of photography. It is not a coincidence that Rudi Meisel, for instance, launched book projects with Norman Foster, that Thomas Mayer has one of the most extensive photo archives on Frank O. Gehry’s work – and that Iwan Baan got his break as an architectural photographer with his work for Rem Koolhaas. Baan’s current documentation of the Louvre-Lens is indicative of deeply felt humanism: analogue to the concept of the new museum, he leaves it to the observer to discover patterns and relationships. In his images, Baan portrays architecture in the context of people, but also of its environment. He examines structures for their relevance and makes photography a litmus test of architecture – an approach which many architects favouring a more formal approach feel rather uneasy about. That architectural photography considers once more the context in which a building is used, and the people using it, is a welcome development for ERCO, where this perspective has never been an issue.

Light and life in space
Light and life in space

Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome, 1993. Photographer: Thomas Mayer
Even in historic architecture, ERCO’s photography focuses on its appropriation by the contemporary user.

Biennale of Architecture, Venice, 2004. Photographer: Frieder Blickle
The Biennale of Architecture – an occasion ERCO uses to draw attention to the relationship of architecture and media representation.




Planning light

About ERCO