Lighting Focus: White magic


A selection of projects that use the absence of colour in order to transform spaces, reifying feelings of religious fulfilment as well as achieving an artful presence.


Words by Jill Entwistle

CREDITS:

Architect: Buro Ziyu Zhang

Chamber Chapel
Qingdao, Shangdong, China
Lighting design: Hoare Lea

BOTH INSIDE AND OUT, the Chamber Chapel is an extraordinary fusion of light and material, a simple but effective evocation of the spiritual. The winner of this year’s IALD Radiance Award, the top honour, the chapel sits in the small town of Qingdao Zangma Mountain, surrounded by green hills and cyprus trees.

The light on the main facade is divided into three levels, using different intensities and colour temperatures to create a hierarchy. The spotlight on the spire of the bell tower is the brightest, a focal point, while the next level is the warm light of the entrance and bell-gable. It increases a sense of security and welcome, ‘and makes the building look richer with more layers,’ says Fang Hu of Beijing Puri. Linear sources are concealed so that light is evenly diffused on the ribs of the entrance but the lamps remain hidden. The third layer is the soft light of the facade on the first floor.

Linear and in-ground lighting were used to give the interior a strikingly hallowed aura
Linear and in-ground lighting were used to give the interior a strikingly hallowed aura

Floodlights project from both sides of the building to produce a uniform surface. Because of the height, the lamp needed to be punchy, a 300W LED source with a tight eight-degree angle. Anti-glare honeycomb louvres on the lamps reduce glare for pedestrians.

The architecture also works perfectly with both artificial light and daylight for its effect. During the day, natural light enters the building through the gaps and is replaced in the evening by a neutral 4000K white light, ‘expressing purity and tranquillity’. Inside, 12W, in-ground lamps with a 10-degree angle were used between the boards in addition to linear lamps. Light is placed at the turning point of the arc, so that the retreat of the light occurs naturally. Frameless downlights with customised curved surfaces are used to ensure a clean ceiling.

At night, a water pool around the chapel reflects the chapel and the activities of people inside. ‘Divine,’ said one IALD judge. ‘Perfection both technically and artistically.’


CREDITS:

Client: Wuhan United Investments Properties
Architect: East China Architectural Design and Research Institute (ECADI)
Interior design: Yu Studio

Fusheng Art Gallery
Wuhan, Hubei, China
Lighting design: Beijing Bamboo Lighting Design

THE LIGHTING SCHEME for the Fusheng Art Gallery, another IALD Award of Excellence winner, ‘not only creates the space’s atmosphere, but also presents the power of silence’, said the IALD.

The first-floor exhibition space and second-floor experience space, both with floor-to-ceiling glass curtain walls, are connected by a void atrium. ‘Sunlight has an intense influence and balancing the impacts of daylight on the space became the most difficult part of this project,’ says lead designer Lili Zhou.

The expansive space is illuminated by a combination of minimal electric light and daylight. Image Credit: TING WANG
The expansive space is illuminated by a combination of minimal electric light and daylight. Image Credit: TING WANG

Daylight simulation testing defined daylight intensity and penetration, and enabled the designers to develop a system of light that used minimal electric light by combining it with the natural effects of daylight.

Light strips in the floor and wallwashers along the ceiling and at luminous surfaces form the space’s boundaries. ‘The light is gentle,’ says Zhou, ‘yet it creates a strong visual presence in the blank space.’

The natural curl of the void atrium leads up into the experience space
The natural curl of the void atrium leads up into the experience space

The exhibition space features a shallow pool at its centre where water drops from the ceiling. The boundaries enclosed by the light are warm and clearly defined, with inverted images of the space reflected on the water’s surface. ‘The l ight in the exhibition space and the void atrium is configured to shape the space while leaving full potential for various exhibition forms,’ explains Zhou.

The exhibition space’s shallow pool provides an unexpected but tranquil atmosphere, reflecting the unique, pale structure that houses it
The exhibition space’s shallow pool provides an unexpected but tranquil atmosphere, reflecting the unique, pale structure that houses it

In the experience space, there are flashing facades and hidden light strips on the floor. Downlights arranged in sets that combine wide and narrow light beams create atmosphere for the rest area. The light is centrally distributed and gentle, making the entire area warm and quiet.

‘This project is an ode to daylight,’ commented one judge. ‘Truly poetic.’


CREDITS:

Architect
Mario Cucinella Architects

Church of Santa Maria Goretti
Mormanno, Cosenza, Italy

AT FIRST GLANCE, it is hard not to draw a parallel with Tadao Ando’s Church of the Light near Osaka, Japan. But while the focus of Ando’s cross is from the interior, at the Church of Santa Maria Goretti in Italy it is viewed most powerfully from the outside. And while Ando’s effect is achieved through the daylight that seeps through a glazed extrusion, here the architecture folds on itself to create the cruciform effect, delineated with artificial light.

The church’s cruciform light display is as a result of natural light hitting the unique architecture. Image Credit: DUCCIO MALAGAMBA
The church’s cruciform light display is as a result of natural light hitting the unique architecture. Image Credit: DUCCIO MALAGAMBA

The church has a four-leafed clover plan and form. It is entered through a tall incision made in one of its four white concrete apses, the entrance forming a tall external cross that, lit at night, becomes a beacon. The interior is lit by a soft light from above, diffused through folds of translucent fabric hung in the form of curvaceous, diaphanous drapes from the 16m-high ceiling.

The billowing white drapes that hang from the church’s ceiling offer a religious elegance within the space. Image Credit: DUCCIO MALAGAMBA
The billowing white drapes that hang from the church’s ceiling offer a religious elegance within the space. Image Credit: DUCCIO MALAGAMBA

There is an additional and powerful use of natural light that recalls prehistoric monuments such as that of Newgrange in Ireland. In addition to the constant play of daylight created by the veils hanging from the ceiling, on one day in the year – 6 July, the Feast of Saint Maria Goretti – a beam of sunlight shines directly on the crucifix set on the wall behind the altar.








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