Lighting is a design activity, like engineering or architecture where science and art are combined.
In interior lighting, many roles overlap, the science and engineering aspects include mechanical, electrical and HVAC and the art and design most notably in the architecture and interior design. Interior lighting is compelled to achieve standards applied in AS/NZS 1680, but these are not wholly prescriptive and allow for the designer to achieve acceptable results through many approaches.
Achieving the right numbers isn’t that important, the most important aspect is to get the appropriate appearance for the design.
Early 1900 commercial and residential architecture was developed to maximise daylight penetration. Early Town planning was often based on access to daylight and pre dated the grid city planning adapted for most cities today. Building footprints were shaped for a large perimeter exposing greater areas to sun and sky. With the development of fluorescent lighting, (and other developments like lifts and air-conditioning etc) building design dramatically changed. Most notably by altering ceiling heights (lower) and changing window size (smaller). These economies continue today and continue to be major drivers in the design of commercial spaces.
There was a lack of understanding in the roles windows play in people’s comfort and their productivity in the workplace. There is a big difference between the role of windows as a light source and their function as a dynamic element in the design (passing of time stimuli etc). Office design continues to evolve with open plan still the most popular. A design objective allowing access to natural light and maintaining people’s view of the outside world.
Even thought the heat load of sunlight is comparable to incandescent lighting the issue is controlling its abundance, you might need 320 lux at the table top but the sunlight coming through a window might exceed 10000 lux.
Attempting to harness sunlight can be compared to trying to get a drink from a fire hydrant. Overseas countries have now legislated for minimum levels of daylight. As a light planner it is a prerequisite that I display a love and respect for the subject. To be a really good designer, I must acknowledge the whole subject and its context and must complete rigorous task analysis and design the lighting to specifically to suit each project.
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