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Façade Lighting can Fabricate a Dramatic Effect of the Architecture to Transform the Eye-Catching Image

By: Nathan Lap Yan Wong, NLW Lighting Design Workshop

What is the importance of façade lighting?

Each client has a story to tell, a pitch to highlight, and a theme to bring out. We use façade lighting to outline the architectural form and shape in achieving these goals.

What are the methods of façade lighting?

Exterior Facade Lighting

First of all, we will have an interview with the client to get the detailed story behind the building and the theme that the client would like to express via the outlook and ambiance of the building. Then, we will study architecture, the building style/ form/shape, and the overall environment (i.e. the architecture itself in detail and the surrounding external environment), viewing all the possibilities of the “architecture meaning” behind it. After evaluation and consolidation of all these elements, we will then design the lighting effect as the cover of the storybook. The lighting effect will outline and enhance the storytelling of the building to sit as a remarkable, memorable landmark inside people’s minds.

What is the impact of façade material on lighting?

As we are all aware that light and materials are integrally connected, different façade materials do have a different impact on lighting as the colour and material surface will have a different reflection of light. For instance, the glossy finish (which has a different intensity of reflection and absorption in lights) will create a very specific distribution of lighting effects as compared to the matte finish. Materials are crucial to lighting design as they, directly and indirectly, affect the quality and quantity of light installation plans. Therefore, we need to sit down with the architect to check on the type and the colour of materials they would use for the building and we can then come up with the appropriate design and suggestion.

Best Facade Lighting Ideas

What are the latest trends in lighting systems & lighting controls?

Currently, most of the façade lighting would be using the EDMX (Ethernet – DMX) system). Each part of EDMX has a “node” on the network which allows the running of more cabling channels over fewer cables. This will not only save time and costs but also provides a larger control capacity.

Latest technologies in LED lighting

Facade lighting using LES Lights

We are passing through the trend from “glitzy and bold Vegas style” to “warm and cozy style” of which colour temperature (ranging from 5000K to 2700K) will be the key to matching the client’s needs and mood.

Use of façade lighting as a marketing factor

Aside from highlighting the main features of the building to create an artistic feel to the exteriors, façade lighting can fabricate a dramatic effect of the architecture which transforms the eye-catching image into a landmark with commercial values of branding. Also, the latest trend of façade lighting has embedded the features of advertisements such as 3D wall panels which further enhance the capacity of façade lighting as a marketing tool.

Future trends & technologies in façade lighting

Facade Lighting IdeasI think lighting technology is already quite mature. However, it is now a matter of how technology in façade lighting can cope with the global sustainability trend with a balance between aesthetics, functionality, and necessity. Light pollution has always been a generally concerned topic, especially in cities like Hong Kong. And it has already caused a huge impact on the earth we live in. It is time for us to put this as the top priority in studying and minimising the harm and damage that lighting has done to the environment. If we do not do something now, we and our children will definitely be suffering in the future.

Standards, local norms & regulations for outdoor/façade lighting in your region.

In general, Hong Kong would take both the CIBSE from the UK and the IESNA standard from the US as a reference. In China, they follow the local standard named “GB”. As a result, different regions will have their own standards and regulations. At the very early stage of each project, we have to sit down with the LDI (Local Design Institute) to check and make sure that all the local standards and regulations are to have complied.

Checkpoints for façade lighting

Best Facade Lighting Ideas

There are many things we need to check in each project for façade lighting. Nevertheless, the most important checkpoint will be whether:

  • The lighting installation has been done correctly
  • The lighting has been addressed correctly to show the desired image or planned lighting effect, and
  • The details for the future maintenance have been well communicated.

Nathan Lap Yan Wong, NLW Lighting Design Workshop

Sr. Design Director

Nathan Lap Yan Wong is a Sr. Design Director at NLW Lighting Design Workshop.

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