We are all familiar with the concept of dynamic light; it surrounds us in nature. From the soft glow of dawn to the thousand chromatic nuances that follow, the beauty of natural light is its rich variety.
What is less well known, however, is that designers today are able to recreate the complexity and drama of natural light in interior spaces too.
Dynamic interior lighting is a concept borrowed from the world of entertainment, but has now evolved into increasingly subtle tools for architects and designers. The latest luminaires are computer-intelligent and can be programmed to reflect the natural rhythms of daylight.
The growing interest in dynamic “intelligent” lighting is not just the result of advances in technology.
Changes in culture and work practices too have altered the basic principles that once governed lighting design. Today a lighting designer is more than an engineer, and is skilled in more than avoiding eyestrain and glare. There is an equal interest in exploring the creative dimensions of light, as a means of defining space, creating atmosphere, and communicating messages.
“Intelligent” lighting refers to automated lights, computer controlled luminaires capable of changing color and intensity, projecting pattern and incorporating movement. This revolution has provided lighting designers with all new tools for more exciting and innovative lighting designs.
But what is dynamic “intelligent” light for? The answer has much to do with the nature of modern life, and its emphasis on flux and mobility. Modern life requires buildings that can meet frequently changing needs, and buildings are responding by becoming increasingly flexible. This modern concept of mobility finds the perfect expression in dynamic light. Changing light creates flexible space, buildings that can react to shifts in culture, mood and climate.
For example, the role of stained glass windows in ancient cathedrals was twofold. One reason was simply to communicate biblical stories or everyday scenes to a largely illiterate congregation. But artists were also fully aware of the expressionist qualities of stained glass, which liberated it from the necessity of narration. They discovered the fundamental truth that stained glass was above all the art of manipulating light and color in an interior space.
What could better communicate the divine (mystical) presence of God, than those beautiful rays of colored light? Today places of worship can benefit from lighting technologists in the same way they once did from the skills of those ancient artists, alchemists and metallurgists.
Even the office environment, more used to the cold uniformity of static illumination, is showing an enthusiasm for dynamic light. As designers strive to improve the workplace, the new office becomes filled with spaces that were once seen as unproductive, vital spaces for recreation and social interaction. This has meant that variety and differentiation have now become essential elements in interior lighting design.
There is also a quality in fluctuating light that keeps people’s awareness and energy levels higher, as the routine of going to the same place every day is interrupted. For some, subtle changes in lighting can support the wish for dynamic change.
Above all, urban living has created in us the urge to be reunited with the natural world. The power of dynamic light is its ability to reconnect us with nature by influencing profound human factors such as mood and alertness.
Intelligent dynamic lighting is certainly no secret. In fact, today an increasing number of houses of worship are incorporating some form of intelligent lighting from the performance stage to the all-purpose room, from indoor offices to the outdoor façade.
Characteristics of Intelligent Lighting
Color: Intelligent luminaires offer a virtually endless choice of color up to 1.6 million different color hues.
Gently “paint” a wall with consistent or ever-changing hues. Wide areas can be washed in a blaze of color, or details subtly illuminated with accuracy.
Pattern: A variety of patterns, textures and images can be projected. These images can then be manipulated in a variety of ways (rotated, aligned, moved, strobed or colored). Images can even be customized.
Movement: Full automation means a light capable of producing everything from sweeping beams to subtle variations of movement. Color or pattern can be projected in virtually any direction.