Article by Terka Acton Lighting is about more than path lighting, cross-lit buildings, and uplights trained on trees. Here are 10 inspirational projects showing you lighting design and application in order to create engaging, imaginative designs with real impact.
Lighting Design and Application in Landscape Architecture
1. Undulating Bridge Hoofddorp by Lodewuk Baljon landscape architects, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands This Dutch pedestrian bridge won the 2015 Lamp Lighting Solutions Award. Lighting transforms it – from day to night, it’s a different project. How? The stainless steel railing is punctuated with perforations. By day these perforations read as a low-key graphic pattern, but when evening approaches they are lit from behind with LED lamps, revealing a stunning tracery of branches inspired by the local poplar (Populus) trees. This lighting is not merely decorative, though, since it removes the need for lamp posts. Here, lighting adds extra functionality and appeal to a well-considered design.2. Torico Square by b720 Fermín Vázquez Arquitectos, Teruel, Spain Torico Square was revitalised in 2007 by b720 Fermín Vázquez Arquitecto. Water is central to this space, and Barcelona-based lighting design firm Artec3 created a lighting scheme in which the quintessential fluidity of water is evoked by colour-changing RGB luminaires embedded in the square’s basalt paving. The existing system, retrofitted with eco-friendly 70w HID ceramic lamps, was retained as a formal element to connect the plaza with the rest of the historical city center, while the fountain is lit with narrow-beam LED projectors and 150w HID ceramic lamps. While there were teething troubles with this project, perhaps this is sometimes to be expected when we push the boundaries with innovative technology. 3. The Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, England by Planet Earth When choices are restricted in terms of hard and soft landscaping options, consider foregrounding lighting in your design instead. Plant Earth’s award-winning renovation of this London space uses colour-changing LED lighting to describe the shape of the iconic Fibonacci Spiral, conjuring up a versatile, dynamic, and atmospheric space from an expanse of grey granite paving. 4. Finsbury Avenue Square, London, England. Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill with Maurice Brill Lighting Design Today, Finsbury Avenue Square is a busy, welcoming space – but prior to the 2001 renovation the square was perceived as dark and unfriendly, and was underused by day as well as by night. This redesign features a lighting matrix built into the ground, with a grid of LED-backed frosted glass strips forming supports for the square’s benches. Over 100,000 LED lights illuminate the space with ever-changing patterns, demonstrating how lighting can improve the energy of a space. 5. Aspire Public Art Lighting Project by Warren Langley, Sydney, Australia Sydney’s Aspire lighting project is a glowing forest of trees sculpted from high-density polyethylene, steel, and LEDs. Commissioned by Sydney City Council from artist Warren Langley to enliven a highway underpass, the trees seem to reach up and support the road above. This public art installation references a community campaign to preserve local buildings slated for destruction. This piece is powerful in the daylight, but making the trees glow amplifies their impact, helps to make the underpass’s pedestrian walkway safer and more attractive, and ensures that the art can also be seen from a distance. 8. Strijp-S, by Piet Oudolf, Carve, Deltavormgroep and Har Hollands, Eindhoven, Netherland It’s fitting that Strijps-S, created from the last Phillips factory in Europe, should feature strong lighting design. A collaboration between design firm Carve, landscape architect Piet Oudolf, lighting designer Har Hollands, and public space specialists Deltavormgroep, this project has reimagined the old factory complex as a modern housing development. The lighting highlights aspects of the architecture, notably the pipes of Leidingstraat (Pipe Street) which are lit from beneath by colored LED strips. The lighting sequences change to emphasise different elements, dynamically illuminating the scheme. 6. Grand Canal Square, Dublin, Ireland, by Martha Schwartz Partners with lighting designers Speirs & Major Associates Opened in 2007, Grand Canal Square is one of the largest, most innovative paved public spaces in Ireland, and a key element in the regeneration of the Dublin docklands. A red resin-glass carpet of paving extends from the square to the dock, intersected by green carpets created by planters of turf, grasses, and perennials that evoke Ireland’s rural landscapes. Angled red poles, clustered at contrasting angles, add height, impact, and playfulness, while granite paving offers a flexible space for festivals and performances. Colourful by day, the space comes alive at night. The red resin-glass paving lights up with in-ground LEDs, while the green carpet is lit by LEDs directed across the floor plane and the angled red poles are topped with glowing red acrylic tubes. Movement-sensitive sensors in the poles create an interactive element. Lighting ensures that this space is as vibrant by day as it is by night, enabling it to fulfil its role as an interactive, regenerative space. 7. Starry Bicycle Path, Studio Roosegaarde, Eindhoven, the Netherlands Eindhoven’s solar bicycle path, inspired by Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, was created in 2015 for the 125th anniversary of the painter’s death. While the path looks ordinary by day, at night it glows with solar-powered LEDs and the light of 50,000 luminous, phosphorescent-paint-coated stones. The €700,000 path makes cycling safer and more pleasant, but also has a wider impact, attracting visitors and demonstrating the city’s capacity for innovation: it is telling that two of our featured projects are located in Eindhoven. Although the path has only been in place for a short time, it’s clear that the lighting in this project makes an impact out of proportion to its cost. 9. Hyllie Plaza, by Thorbjörn Andersson with Sweco architects, Malmö, Sweden Hyllie Plaza, completed 2010, is an urban forest of beech (Fagus) trees growing from twelve parallel planting beds in the granite and concrete hardscape. The lighting scheme adds a touch of magic to this highly symbolic landscape: a star-filled sky 16 meters above the trees, with 2,800 LED diodes strung over 1,800 meters of steel wire, programmed to create lighting scenarios adapted to the season and conditions. 10. Perikleous Street, Athens, Greece: public design intervention by Atenistas The other projects featured here took years of planning, and were realised at considerable expense. The Perikleous Street public intervention, by contrast, was completed in in a single day in January 2014 with the help of 40 volunteers after three weeks of planning by Atenistas, local business owners, residents, and the public lighting division. While the city’s lighting engineers installed new lights in the alleyway, volunteers painted a cheerful urban nightscape mural depicting lamp posts and brightly-let buildings. Lighting can be an inexpensive, effective way to make a space feel safe.
Lighting Design and Application
What can we learn from these ten projects? In each case, lighting plays a crucial role, bringing to the design important qualities like visibility, security, magic, and the expression of narratives – and sometimes all of these. Often, these results could not otherwise be achieved, whether because of the restrictions of the site or the budget. It’s also striking that the designs here are appropriate to each site: in the Grand Canal project, bold light sticks are balanced by more muted lighting across the horizontal plane, for instance, and only certain specific elements are picked out in the Strijp-S scheme. This sense of appropriateness extends to our stewardship of the environment: while advances in lighting technology can help manage our over-use of energy, concerns about light pollution demand that we balance our desire for safety and visibility with the need to protect the environment from the negative effects of excess light. When we make responsible, creative, and imaginative use of lighting a key element of landscape design, however, the rewards can be immense. Which projects would you choose to demonstrate innovation in lighting design and application? Go to comments Recommended Reading:
- The Landscape Lighting Book by Janet Lennox Moyer
- Designing With Light: The Art, Science and Practice of Architectural Lighting Design by Jason Livingston
Article by Terka Acton