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a life in architecture

Lighting designer Jonathan Speirs has a list of 'must see' buildings.

One on the list he has now ticked off is Louis Kahn's Kimbell Art Museum at Fort Worth, Texas (above), which surpassed his expectations when he saw it - 'particularly the way the light filters in and reflects off the concrete vaulting. As the daylight changes outside, the lighting inside also changes - that is something which normally we don't allow to happen.'

For Speirs the museum is an excellent example of a collaboration between Kahn and his lighting designer, Richard Kelly.

'Some of the equipment that would be used today would be a little bit smaller, but for something that was designed between 1968 and 1972 it is still outstanding.'

Speirs makes no apology for mentioning Le Corbusier's church at Ronchamp, although it is a clichÚ in any discussion of architectural lighting. 'Light, colour and architecture are integrated there, and the glass was hand-painted by Corb.' For part of his childhood, Speirs lived in the Midland Hotel, Morecambe, which his parents ran in the 1960s.

Revisiting Oliver Hill's masterpiece as a student, he observed 'that the lighting wasn't really noticeable in the building', an approach that exemplifies Speirs'own lighting philosophy:

'It's about light, not light fittings.

The most successful buildings are the ones where there's almost a seamless design approach between the various specialisms, be they structural design or lighting design.'

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