Licht Kunst Licht: Städel Garden

Dave Burk, Hedrich Blessing 2

Photo by Dave Burk, Hedrich Blessing

The Landscape of Lighting: Part 2/6

Friday, May 16th, 2014

By Amanda Koellner
Images courtesy of Norbet Miguletz

The Landscape of Lighting: Maximizing Daylight

As Jim Baney, a partner in Schuler Shook’s Chicago office says, “Using daylighting in architectural lighting is not new.” Despite this undeniable truth, he also says that studies have confirmed a strong user preference toward natural light and a connection to the outdoors, making the maximization of mother nature’s luminescence, well, trendy. “Exposure to certain wavelengths present in daylight helps to regulate the secretion of many chemicals that play a role in our sleep cycles, our stress levels, and our level of alertness, among other things,” he says. “It seems to be a trend in architectural lighting design that’s here to stay, as, in addition to the health benefits and energy savings it can offer, many building codes are beginning to mandate lighting controls that respond to the level of available daylight.”

Using computer programs and algorithms along with historic data, Schuler Shook predicts the amount of useful daylight that will be delivered to a given space through daylighting analysis. This process drove the firm’s design of Loyola University’s Winter Garden, which was based primarily on the amount of light necessary to effectively allow plants to grow for student research within the space. A custom shading system also was designed to prevent glare and overheating during the most intense periods of direct sun exposure, as well as to keep occupants as comfortable as the plants.

Across the pond, German lighting-design office Licht Kunst Licht AG also employed the use of daylight in a recent addition to the Frankfurt Städel Museum a more than 32,000-square-foot underground expansion located beneath the green grass of the Städel Garden.

“Particularly in the presentation of works of art, the invaluable quality of daylight lies in its excellent color rendition,” says Andreas Schulz, CEO of Licht Kunst Licht. He and his team crafted 195 skylights with diameters between roughly five and eight feet that allow daylight to freely flow into the underground exhibition hall. By virtue of an integrated ring of LED elements, they simultaneously serve as artificial light sources when necessary. “The result is a lighting solution that suits the requirements of a modern temporary exhibition space,” Schulz says, “and creates excellent visual and conversational conditions for the displayed exhibits.”

The designer echoes Baney’s sentiment about the lasting appeal of maximizing daylight. “The dynamics of daylight and the unconscious need for information on weather conditions appears to be rooted in us by virtue of our evolutionary-biological disposition,” he says.

Read Part 3: Unexpected LEDs

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