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Sudhakar Windows and Doors

Key Factors to Consider while Designing Façade Lighting and Choosing Lighting Products

By: Sumesh Sivasankar, Vestian Global Workplace Solutions Private Limited

Façade, also known as the skin of a building, can be decorated in many ways by using designs, shapes, materials and through illumination. Materials that are available in the local or international market are used by façade experts to give life to those designs, keeping important aspects in mind such as safety, maintenance and longevity. An aspect to enhance the look of the façade is illumination/lighting.

The purpose of façade lighting is to transform buildings, reveal their forms, and add value to the view. By a good lighting design, the aesthetics and beauty of a structure can increase. The character, story and history of the building and its surroundings must be thoroughly understood and studied before implementing the final dressing.Façade experts encourage in achieving beautiful aesthetic looks and that is where façade lighting comes into the picture. In short, illuminating/lighting the skin will give a new life to the building even if the building is old or new and indeed make it an eye-catcher as it highlights the architecture part and puts emphasis on building features.

Beautifully lit buildings during night time will not just enhance the surroundings but add to the total nocturn image of a city with a beautiful impression. Moreover, using energy-efficient and beautiful lighting to form vibrant social spaces can provide a dramatic effect on the building. The façade image of a building depends not only on the material and shape of the façade itself but also on light (including the direction of light) and colour as mentioned. During the day, the direction and intensity of sunlight changes with time, and the appearance of the building changes with daylight. At night, when different lighting methods and lighting control combinations are used, the façade of the building presents a different image.


Suzlon One Earth campus India
Suzlon One Earth campus India

Light has a deep impact on the human body. Visually, light determines those aspects of our surroundings which we can perceive and interpret. Non-visually, light contributes to regulating our physiological and psychological nature. Light is thus an unusual medium that can work in and out of our conscious attention, and with new lighting technology this aspect is falling within our control. Hence, if the lights are properly installed, based on the façade lighting designs with the support of lighting and façade experts, it will highlight and expose the main features of the building and its surroundings. Lighting provides a superb artistic feel to the façades along with the shadows. Façade experts have mentioned that light shadows are as important as illumination/ lighting.

Façade lighting should be versatile and all weather proof. If trying to light on exteriors of the building, there are chances of continue working fine even when there is no protection from the natural elements like wind and sunlight. As said earlier apart from aesthetic look, while installing the façade illumination environment safety, maintenance and also should be waterproof product/material.

78 Corlett Drive, South Africa
78 Corlett Drive, South Africa

High rise structures across world are now being lighted up in innovative ways to stand them out from others. Yes there is indeed a competition amongst the façade designers in this field. Each project would be of their signature project and they insist it should be far far better than what they have or others have done. Façade lighting has become increasingly important in ensuring its visibility and security. Not only that, façade lighting has now assumed a more important role in city planning and development. It provides night-time as much as it provides daytime elegance.

Lighting design is a process and is one of the best ways to maximise space. Experts often advise that designers consider lighting concepts from the earliest design stage. Doing this would allow for lighting to be optimised much later to enhance the perception of space, reinforce the activity within the space or highlight prominent areas. By now, we have come to know that importance of lighting design and calculating the right/exact lux level. It is also about the physiological visual demands and the emotional appeal to public. Hence, it is important to thoroughly plan before choosing or designing a lighting scheme, especially if the client is new to the domain.

Architectural façade lighting has the following purposes;

Confederation of Danish Industry, Denmark
Confederation of Danish Industry, Denmark
  • to create visual aspects in the city
  • to increase the building’s value
  • to emphasise architecture
  • to attract attention and tourists
  • to promote trade and commerce.

Visit places like Dubai, New York City, Shanghai, Singapore and Korea, etc. to feel the night life in those cities because of these amazing buildings.

Factors considering while designing façade lighting/illumination

Before going into this point, there are a few points which are to be considered as below mentioned.

  • Height and width of the building where façade lighting is going to be installed
  • Position of the light source
  • Façade material used and
  • Avoid or reduce light pollution.

A few factors to be considered while designing the façade lighting are as follows.


Galleria Citycentre, South Korea
Galleria Citycentre, South Korea

The whole façade need not be illuminated in-fact. Illuminating the important spaces on the façade is just enough to brighten the space. Both the lighting and façade experts review the structural spots/spaces in whole and considering view blockage, tall trees and nearby high rise buildings and then decide to move forward with execution. Think about the viewers. They might be walking pedestrians, cyclists, travelling in vehicles, public that might be entering or exiting another high-rise building or inmates in an apartment, etc.


A building can have more usage. Using the available space could determine the kind of façade lighting. At that point, certain points to be considered are visual ease, glare, and task illumination in thinking about functions. There are lighting requirements and recommended light levels for different tasks, which will be available in The Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers [CIBSE] guide. CIBSE is a charity organisation registered in England.


Efficient lighting gives meaningful effects on the health and behaviour of people. It can sufficiently improve and stabilise mood, helping people better focus. Psychologically, it has been proved that it can decrease depression tendencies in human beings, better cognitive performance like reaction time and activation. Therefore, it is very important to give attention on how lighting design would potentially affect.


Siemens UAE
Siemens UAE

If the respected client is looking to create an interest and atmosphere around the façade, the light consultant should be skilled at creating depth and texture through perfect lighting and shadows. Soft shadows could draw attention to the lit area and the user use them to highlight features of a focal point in a façade, perhaps an art on the wall, an ornament, or a city block, for example. Perfectly designed lighting can give an impression that a façade is larger. One straight light in the middle of a façade could illuminate the centre while darkening the rest of the wall. This would draw the attention away from the façade. Suppose the client/user want to make the façade appear larger. In that case, illuminate the walls with the brightest light, drawing the viewers’ attention to the surrounding walls while making the entire building visible.


Can use either a direct or indirect lighting can be supportive based on the design of the façade and how the lighting should be needed. If using direct light, while it may be bright and directional, giving a control over the area of both the façade and the surroundings can cause a flash leading to headache and/or exhaustion to public. Here using/installing anti-glare baffles can manage this issue. Indirect light, however, reflects on a surface of a fitting, causing viewers to see a diffused light on a surface. Indirect light may create a relaxed atmosphere, as glare is absent. Hence, it reduced strain on the eye and is advisable. If using only indirect light on façades could create a very bland and dull space in-fact. Hence it would be suggested to try out a combination of light and shadow for the best effects.


There are three types of light colours. Cool colour, Day colours. and Warm colour. As the name suggests, Cool colours illuminate a light blue colour appearance, while Day light is similar to Sunlight appearance. Warm colour will show in yellow which are used in retails like jewellery shops more to match the jewellery colour. Colour temperature is a way to describe the light appearance provided by a light bulb. It is measured in degrees of Kelvin (K) on a scale from 1,000 to 10,000. These colour types have environments and purposes for which they are best suited. The client should pay attention to this before choosing a design concept.


Twin Al Bahr Towers UAE
Twin Al Bahr Towers UAE

In today’s world, there are technologies in the form of apps/automation systems to control the lighting how a user wants. The apps support the user which can be controlled by his/her mobile phones. The lights can be controlled either by apps developed the lighting manufacturer or by Bluetooth in the mobile phone. In short these control systems are solution for energy-saving and also for protecting the ecosystem. How and where to control and how will this affect the user experience, these concerns are to be addressed by the client with the lighting consultant and the façade expert in the stage of planning or initiating lighting design concepts.


Below mentioned are few features to be considered while choosing the façade lighting fixtures/products as follows:

  • Choosing the light colour temperature, colour render index, and lumen output of light sources properly
  • Using IP rated and requiring easy maintenance and installation products
  • Choosing the right beam angle and directing the fixtures correctly
  • Minimising blue light emission
  • Choosing façade-compatible fixtures

There are 7 different types of building façade. According to the different types of building façade, we should adopt the lighting method suitable for this kind of façade, in order to better express the aesthetic feeling of the building at night.

The following are some outdoor façade lighting tips from some professional lighting designers.

1. Lighting of Solid Façade

Floodlighting on the solid façade will flatten the façade, and as the façade rises, the brightness of the façade will gradually decrease and a low contrast transition to the dark night sky will occur. The use of floodlighting highlights the surface texture of the façade material. And for those façades that do not have texture, the light that spreads out over the façade forms a light spot that itself forms the important pattern of the façade.

The Irene HQ UAE
The Irene HQ UAE

2. Lighting for vertically divided façade

The façade effect of vertical separation is enhanced by a narrow light projection on the vertically separated façade. To avoid shadows, the luminaire should be properly positioned and the lighting direction should be oriented parallel to the façade.

3. Lighting for horizontally separated façades

When project light on the horizontally separated façade, the upward lighting close to the façade will enhance the three-dimensional feeling of the façade. By increasing the distance of the luminaire from the façade, the long and heavy shadow of the raised portion of the façade can be reduced. Sometimes, LED linear lights can be arranged on the horizontal partition structure of the façade to represent the horizontal partition of the building.

4. Lighting with concave-convexfaçade

Generally speaking, the different parts of the concave-convex façade can be treated with different luminance or different light colour to enhance the rhythm of the façade appearance. The use of flood light with wide beam angle will reduce the contrast between the bump of the façade, making the building “flat. “.

5. Lighting on perforated façade

When lighting the façade with window or holes, it should be noted that the lighting of the façade does not produce glare to the people indoors. The general use of lighting to highlight the outline of the window or hole will enhance the building’s sense of drama.

6. Lighting on Strip-shaped façade

For the strip-shaped layered façade, by spreading the light from the inside out, it reinforces the building’s presence at night and creates a strong contrast between the lighted windows (interior) and dark façades.

7. Lighting of Façade with Transparent Glass Curtain Wall

In daylight, the transparent façade of the building is dark and reflects its surroundings. The presence of indoor lighting allows one to see the interior of a building. The upper light on the interior top surface enhances the presence of the roof, making the interior brighter at night, and the framing of the façade creates a silhouette effect. When linear lighting is applied to the top surface of each floor, the horizontal structure of the building is strengthened.

VIP Entry in Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque UAE
VIP Entry in Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque UAE

There is no fixed method of lighting different forms of façades. The most important thing is that the lighting designer should master the corresponding effects and advantages and disadvantages of different methods, then make decision according to the overall creative design concept.

Also would like to mention a few checkpoints to be considered while designing façade lighting:

  • Kindly avoid light pollution and light trespass.
  • Use the latest available energyefficient lighting solutions
  • Minimising glare and controlling required shadows and brightness
  • Checking how the building affects the silhouette of the city, considering that it will be seen from far distances
  • Harmony of building lighting with its close environment
  • Being respectful to nature and building environment
  • Compliance with international standards

To conclude, static or dynamic illuminated buildings create the night view and character of the cities, perfectly created and consciously illuminated buildings only become a valuable element to the environment we live and also provide both architectural and economic value.

Sumesh Sivasankar, Vestian Global Workplace Solutions Private Limited

Associate Director - Project Services

Sumesh Sivasankar is a competent professional with a total work experience of 25 years. He has been working for over 15 years in interior design and build project management in India and UAE. Presently he is working as the Associate Director - Project Services at Vestian Global Workplace Solutions. His experience is not just limited to the execution of projects but extended to planning, coordination, procurement, quantity survey & estimation and project closure activities. Apart from being a project management professional and a vivid reader, he writes articles related to project management and gives lectures and training to young upcoming civil engineers in the fit-out project management domain. He has executed projects related to corporate and workspaces, retails, hospitality, kids’ nursery, clinics, etc.

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