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ILLUMINATION ABOUT LIGHTING

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TECHNICAL

Coinciding with the reprinting of Site Layout Planning, reviewed opposite, is a new architect-friendly text looking at the whole subject of lighting design. The Design of Lighting* is more functional text than source of inspiration, but it does take a broad view of the roles of lighting rather than just focusing on putting the right quantity of light on the working plane. Aimed to include students who already know some of the basics, practising architects will find it more a useful reference than a book to read from cover to cover. But it is good for that, focusing on the issues to think through, picking up on recent research and offering some propositions about the use of lighting and about approaches to design.

In its role as textbook/reference, it begins with five chapters of technical background that you are invited to skip over. These clearly recapitulate basics - the description of light and colour (what's a lumen, or chroma), our physiological response to light and colour, generic types of lamp and the paths and patterns of direct sunlight and diffuse skylight.

The main body of the book comprises the nine chapters on design.

Information, control, energy - An opening with a main proposition that lighting is about information. This does not lead to the delight-free approach this functional focus might imply. You don't have to agree. At least the authors are offering a set of ideas with which to think about lighting.

The single room - Establishing room character as the first design step, drawing attention to illuminating building surfaces, not just tasks, questioning uniformity and pondering the use of surprise.

Dimensions of colour - The main proposition is to begin design with value (reflectance), then chroma (saturation) and only then to home in on specific hues.

Task lighting - Includes the suggestion of personal choice in task illuminance level, not just on/off.

View and daylight - Good on people's preferences for windows and views. Surprisingly little to say about the effectiveness or otherwise of shading systems and methods of redirecting daylight such as light shelves.

Display - Begins with the proposition that thinking in terms of display lighting is a requirement of every interior. Most of the chapter is on exhibit lighting.

Exterior lighting - Mostly for building form, plus security and safety. Suggests we may move to planning control on exterior lighting.

Emergency lighting.

Maintenance, energy, cost - For energy the big unknown can be switching by occupants, where they have this freedom. Work by bre, probe, etc has monitored the effectiveness of differing control options which could usefully have been synthesised here.

Interpreting calculation

The last section of the book, on calculation, is more generally useful than you might expect. It begins by talking through the use of calculations. Then for different topics - sunlight and skylight, daylight factors, general lighting and use of specific fittings - the authors work through an example, focusing both on what the calculation includes/assumes, and crucially providing a commentary interpreting the results. If you never lift a lighting protractor in anger, scanning the procedures and reading the commentaries can provide a useful insight into what the lighting consultant is up to.

* The Design of Lighting. Peter Tregenza and David Loe. E & F N Spon. 164pp. £39.99

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