Planning light for monumental buildings, ,

Planning light for monumental buildings

When illuminating large-area facades, it is important to think on a large scale not only in terms of simulation and visualisation. Creative solutions are also required for the luminaire mounting locations - thus enabling the challenges of the building dimensions to be mastered.

Efficiently presenting and showcasing large buildings in urban areas requires special concepts, methods and tools. To externally illuminate monumental landmarks in their entirety would require a disproportionate amount of energy. The alternative is to concentrate on the effective surfaces and architectural features within the urban space - as with illumination of the Milan Cathedral. For pedestrians for example the lighting in the lower area is relevant. The upper floors and an illuminated roof make a building visible on the skyline.

Planning light for monumental buildings

Since partial mockups for large buildings can hardly provide a representative overall impression, light simulations are indispensable for checking suitable light distributions and illuminances.

Three aspects are relevant for lighting the facade of large buildings:

1. Simulation or mockup: a partial mockup with only a few projectors hardly conveys a representative impression with such dimensions. For this reason, the use of light simulations, enabling a complete view from different perspectives, is particularly useful for large buildings.

2. Overcoming distance: to illuminate from long distances, projectors with very narrow, precise light beams are needed. In this way, light pollution can also be kept to a minimum. Even a narrow spot with 6° light beam generates a light of 10m diameter at a distance of 100m.

3. Appropriate brightness: lighting levels usual in interiors are too high for outdoor applications. At night, illuminances below 100lx are often sufficient in an urban context, especially on bright surfaces.

Planning light for monumental buildings

Luminaires with very narrow beam angles are suitable for the precise illumination of facades from long distances. Different light distributions make it possible to respond individually to the form of the facade.

Planning light for monumental buildings
Planning light for monumental buildings

Photography: Timm Lange

Correct positioning of luminaires

When looking for suitable locations for luminaires, there are generally three possible positions with large buildings: on the building itself, on masts in the street space and on neighbouring buildings. Lighting mounted directly on the facade is suitable for grazing light which emphasises the texture of the surface. With terraced buildings the luminaires can be arranged on the recesses. In this way the facade is illuminated segmentally and more uniformly. Existing masts in the street space are particularly suitable for illuminating the lower part of the building with wide light distributions. For the upper areas of the building, however, high mounting points are advantageous. These are usually only possible on neighbouring buildings and therefore usually have long distances to the facade. The optimum illumination of large buildings requires the intelligent use of luminaires with very different light distributions. At medium distances, asymmetric wallwasher light distribution is useful for uniform illumination. Oval light distribution is also suitable for vertical architectural details.

Planning light for monumental buildings

Luminaires installed on the facade create grazing light and thus intense contrasts between light and shadow. Even small projections in the façade can generate extremely long shadows. Surfaces to a height of approximately 6m can be easily emphasised with grazing light.

Planning light for monumental buildings

Large recesses make it possible to accentuate the facade in gradations. Due to the greater distance to the facade, the shadow effect of relieflike surface structures is not as extreme as with grazing light.

Planning light for monumental buildings

To illuminate high facades uniformly it is advisable to increase the distance between the facade and the luminaires. Wallwashers on masts can thus illuminate a façade with a height of about 30m at a distance of 10m from the building.

Planning light for monumental buildings

To illuminate the upper areas of very high buildings the luminaires must be positioned at long distances. The facade can be precisely illuminated with very narrow light distributions, thus also avoiding light pollution.

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