The layers of light that give life
And beautify a city
Light is the most intangible material that designers and architects work with. And at the same time it is essential for the human being and for giving life to the rest of the materials. With it, multiple nuances are printed in the spaces we live in, whether private or public. In the city, the lighting project will be inextricably intertwined with architecture and urban planning. And the new digitization technologies emerge as a new input to be introduced during the development of the project, which infinitely expands the possibilities.
The lighting of a city is made up of multiple layers of light. The functional light for pedestrian routes that, at the same time, must provide visual comfort. The one that illuminates the architectural heritage and allows us to read it in the urban landscape and orient ourselves. The private light of the shops that extends to the street and has an influence on the public space. Or the media layer: advertising that sometimes takes center stage and shapes the public lighting of an area.
Give coherence to light layers
For Michela Mezzavilla, architect and lighting designer founder of studio reMM and co-founder of MMAS Lighting Design Studio, all these layers of light give great complexity to the projects that are part of the urban landscape. “It is necessary to observe how the different layers play with each other. In all cities there should be a master plan for lighting the city, which would give them coherence”, he pointed out in his presentation on strategies to “Beautify a city through lighting”, at the Simon 100 Symposium Recent years illuminating cities, which has taken place at La Casa de la Llum in Madrid.
“When we talk about beautifying – points out Michela Mezzavilla – it can be associated with make-up. Although what we are talking about is giving cities a visual value, because they are very complex”. As a lighting designer, he uses different tools and resources, which include managing the different luminance balances, working with contrast, with chords or with different shades of light. However, the most important thing for her is that everything forms people. art of a discourse, of a narrative that helps to interpret the spaces and make them more livable and more interesting
The cities of light
In her intervention, the architect recalled how historically “the beautiful city par excellence is the so-called city of light. In our imagination, Paris”. There, lighting has its weight and a specific urban planning project was developed, in relation to its monumentality. Light is also associated with an emblematic city such as New York, which is said to never sleep. However, Mezzavilla referred to different cultural conceptions of light, mentioning the beauty of shadow patterns in Japanese culture, with Tanizaki’s Praise of Shadow as a major reference. Or the culture of Nordic cities that use less light power. A vision of light “as a precious commodity. Special like a jewel”. For Mezzavilla, in the current energy context “we can start to look at light almost as a luxury, which we dose”.
The beauty of the ephemeral installation
Between Silence and Light, ephemeral installation, by reMM, year 2013, photo Roberto Eleuteri
The architect also highlighted another relevant layer of light in cities: the increasingly valued ephemeral light installations, with lighting festivals as a great platform to experience and spread the culture of light. “Citizen participation in festivals – according to Mezzavilla – is important. By enjoying the light, people become more aware of it. And it is a transformational factor for light. The ephemeral installation is narrative and is a game. And people can connect with what’s going on.”
Ebook: Lighting control systems