Light’s Versatility and Necessity to Architectural Appeal

Light’s Versatility and Necessity to Architectural Appeal

How many of us have given thought to the power of light and its relevance to architectural design? Both artificial and natural light exert power over perception. Little thought is put into flipping a switch when walking into the kitchen, but the placement and volume of the light has great bearing on the look and functionality of the kitchen. The way the sunlight floods in through the windows affects the same aspects as the artificial lighting. Light is the most transcendent aspect of architecture, as the use of both artificial and natural light possesses the ability to change how the architecture is viewed.

One of my favorite pieces of large-scale architecture is the Eiffel Tower. It was finished in 1889 for the world fair that was being held in Paris that year. The monument wasn’t meant to remain erected, but through the years had proved useful in wars and transmission of radio waves. Though the history of the Eiffel Tower is very interesting, more intriguing is the way that light changes perception of the building.

For instance, in the natural light of the day the magnitude and ornate details may be noted. The Eiffel tower seems to reach into the sky, almost like it is balancing on the tips of four giant toes. The monument reaches far higher than the surrounding trees and buildings. It appears strong and stable, as it commands onlookers’ attention.


However, under the cloak of darkness the Eiffel Tower seems to come alive. The artificial light radiates from the monument. In the night, the tower is not only a French symbol but also a beacon brining light to the city and setting aglow the sky for miles.


Getting back to the switch that gets carelessly flipped on while passing into the kitchen, there is much to be said for proper lighting. The picture below is a great pairing of natural and artificial lighting. Notice the can (recessed) lights casually brightening the corner. These lights have a dual purpose. They offer gratuitous space and depth to the kitchen while improving the functionality of the counter space. Imagine this room, for a moment, at night. Without the natural light that is cascading in through the windows, the can and pendent lights will illuminate every corner and the room will maintain the airy feel evident in the picture.


During the day, natural light visually increases the space of a room while adding a feeling of cleanliness and delight. The way light pours in through kitchen windows may greatly add to, or take away from, the mood of the space. If there isn’t much light, the kitchen may seem cramped and small. Generally speaking, there is a lot of work that goes on in a kitchen. One should be comfortable. No one wants to prepare food in a dark, confined, little corner. However, when there is abundant light, as shown above, the kitchen space is inviting and vibrant.

Conclusively, on a day-to-day basis artificial and natural light may be taken for granted. However, light, or lack thereof, has great bearing on the mood of a room or the appearance of an object. Lighting is a wonderful aspect of architecture and has the power to take a monument and solidify it as a beacon or change an everyday room into an inviting, friendly space. As a species, we seem to crave light. With artificial light, we have the ability to keep darkness at bay while creating a more ornate look to the planet.


Ashley Casey – Design Professional

Gould Design, Inc.