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Light effects in the design process: a theoretical investigation of designers’ perceptions of light effects and an empirical study of how they use them in architectural lighting design

Skarlatou, A.-Z.; (2011) Light effects in the design process: a theoretical investigation of designers’ perceptions of light effects and an empirical study of how they use them in architectural lighting design. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

There is a widely accepted but undocumented number of colloquial terms used within the architectural lighting profession, briefly described as ‘light effects’. They are seen as vague and unsuccessful in describing the phenomena in question. Therefore a thorough retrospection of classifications or explorations by lighting designers, researchers and artists such as Richard Kelly, John Flynn and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy is carried out in search of understanding the underlying criteria. The hypothesis of the thesis is that designers perceive light effects and conceive lighting schemes as compositions of light effects during the design process, according to five generic principles of ‘space and light’. They are briefly described as: direction and position of light source, geometry of light distribution, illumination perspective, use of abstraction in luminous compositions and syntactic relationship of surface and source. In the second part, an empirical evaluation of the hypothesis is unfolded. Lighting designers are recorded while planning the lighting for a purpose-designed residence. With methods influenced by protocol analyses of design studies, the corpus of coded transcripts supported by produced sketches and videos is analysed in an interpretative approach. It appears that designers clearly consider the first three principles as directly affecting the formal properties of a lighting scheme while also thinking on a more organisational level of luminous compositions, which involves some use of abstract and a lesser use of syntactic thinking. The use of ‘metaphors’ and ‘archetypes’ is identified as an extra mental tool that interlinks the itemised light effects to an overall conception of space by providing ‘content’. Overall, the thesis attempts for the first time to accurately address the elusive nature of ‘light effects’ based on designers’ opinions and establishes five criteria that work as an articulation of architectural lighting design principles.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Light effects in the design process: a theoretical investigation of designers’ perceptions of light effects and an empirical study of how they use them in architectural lighting design
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
Additional information:Appendix 5 (recordings of interviews) are not included for data protection reasons
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School > Bartlett School of Graduate Studies

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