Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Color of Light

Manhattan - Via Kw-ny on Flickr
Architectural lighting is an important consideration when planning the color scheme of a large building. Once the sun has gone down and painted colors and natural materials fall mute, lighting brings buildings to life in new way. New York paints a beautiful portrait awash in the glow of the rising sun but when the topography is no longer bathed in golden yellow and warm copper glow,   each structure fades back to grayed mid-tones.

Shanghai - See the whole panorama via Wired New York
When we paint epic cityscapes in our heads we tend to create something similar to this shot of the cloudy Shanghai mega-city. Grey, silver and black hues dominate the visual horizon in every direction. Studded here and there are rivers of headlights and  the faint glow of ambient lights.

Some cites especially in Asia, are glittering with post sunset color. The lights of advertisements and architectural lighting mix with the glow of street lamps and passing cars.

Tokyo - Via Wallpapervortex
Architectural lighting designers allow buildings to participate in this glorious polychromatic display of nighttime color. Take this example below:

Hong Kong - The Nexxus via Laservision

This is the Nexxus building in Hong Kong.
"Laservision was engaged by Mutual Capital Limited to create, design and install a state of the art dynamic lighting design that would demand the attention of passersby, whilst maintaining the natural grandeur and iconic physical characteristics of the Nexxus Building in Hong Kong." 
A custom LED layout was created to cover the skin of the Nexxus with changing and flowing color. The lights are placed  to both accentuate the existing structure and  redefine its shape with negative and positive spaces. The building becomes an active changing participant in the cityscape instead of a static on looker.

What are your favorite colorful architectural lighting projects?

- Emily Eifler, Writer, Colour Studio
- Jill Pilaroscia, Principal, Colour Studio


  1. Having just been in Reykjavik, Iceland, I couldnt miss the massive new Harpa Concert Hall that towers over the ships down at the harbour. As Iceland is dark for so long (when I was there it didn't get light until after 10:30 am, lighting buildings becomes even more important. A poet designed the facade rather than an architect and the building is designed to look like basalt columns and at night the lights skip over the surface like waves. I will put some images of it on tumblr later today.

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