The heightened sense of joy derived from seeing a well-lit building proves why a human being is not divorced from the pleasures of eyes.
Author: Devashish Ganguli is working with Havells India Ltd. Views expressed in this article are in his personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or publishers
Every city wants to create its own identity. Our cities are blessed with architectural marvels, which are a viewers’ delight. With the advent and proliferation of new age technology, in particular the connected lighting solution with LED, these marvels can be viewed at night-time too.
Today, we are witnessing an exponential change as how buildings or a city should be illuminated. It is important that the cultural ethos, the history or the seriousness of the architecture should not be ignored. This fact assumes a paramount space in every designer’s mind. A well-lit building gives a sense of security, while also being an attraction and a welcoming place for public discourse, get-togethers and socialising. These façades facilitate orientation, convey messages, communicate emotions, and garner attention.
Light in a city has to be practical and aesthetically designed. Form always follows function. A well-lit road or an evenly-lit public garden – all add to the welcoming ambience. It is important to light public spaces in the night so that they are perceived as part of the city after dark, profound views by an expert Rahul Gagneja, who is Superintendent Engineer with Ludhiana Corporation and is actively involved in Ludhiana Smart City project. In Gagneja’s opinion, lighting is like constructing experiences from attention and thus to awareness.
Contemporary lighting solutions for building façades need to add value for local authorities. It should also have an architectural or economic merit by making a location more beautiful and safer, while getting a positive corporate image across. Recently, we have seen numerous buildings all over India displaying different shades of colours; using lighting as a leitmotif. It would not be an exaggeration to state that light is the elixir of life or maybe one of the most compelling reasons of existence. A well-lit area touches the emotional cords of the inhabitants. Light gives form to building’s shape, its visual perception, and thus very important in that sense to an architect as well as to an onlooker or the spectator. Light and lighting is, therefore, very important as it consciously or subconsciously casts an indelible impression in our minds.
Indore-based prominent electrical consultant Sandeep Mathur said that lighting a building is a process wherein we need to ensure free detached thinking, which is however, led by lofty stream of consciousness. He is presently assisting the state government to develop electrical solutions for the proposed smart cities in Madhya Pradesh. “Today, we see the Internet of Things weaving its magic to revolutionise lighting. Light can transform night scene so much so that the urban architecture can be viewed in myriad shapes and styles during night and encourage people to spend a little more time, inviting them for night-time activities. Lighting need not be too dominant and should respect the cohesive laws of nature, along with making sure that there is no night sky pollution,” elaborated Mathur.
“Light is the giver of form. It actualises visual perception, space and geometry. It, however, is the artistic sensitivity with which light can be controlled that separates a great project from among the good ones,” said Vivek Jain of Ampower Consultancy, who strongly feels that architect’s thoughts on lighting of a building is very important as he considers night-time vision and activities in and around the building. “In a lighting project, the role of lighting designer should not be seen but experienced,” added Jain. He has a ubiquitous distinction offering electrical solutions as consultant to work with the top-notch designers and architects in the interior space and has to his credit more than 300 buildings and 10 million square feet plus space yet to be designed.
“One can create a great design but the design is only as good as its implementation,” said Ravi Pathak, who runs Imagineering Services based in Mumbai that specialises in lighting installations. Started just over seven years ago, today it boasts of a significant clientele which has some of the best developers across the country. Pathak takes us along a journey on some of the projects that have made an impression in Bengaluru’s skyline.
His acumen as a lighting installer is smart assemblage of thoughts and ideas to makes the installation safe and bring to life the brilliance in architectural design. According to him, lighting interacts with finishes and materials so that light and shadow become natural extension of the architectural language. Thus it is very important that an installer should understand and respect to camouflage light fittings into the buildings structure rather than applying as additional element. Bengaluru skyline has been redefined by some of the projects done by Pathak’s firm Imagineering Services; we enjoyed unraveling the intricacies of lighting the projects in a deep and intriguing conversation with him.
White Meadows: This is a residential community project in close vicinity of IT hub of Bengaluru, which includes four high-rise towers. Here, façade lighting was done outside the balcony to define the building structure. The latest project by prestige developers White Meadows is an exclusive ultra luxury community comprised of 288 Sky Villas in four high-rise towers of upto 27 floors.
Lighting design at White Meadows is done by the famed designer firm, LDP Australia, headed by Dhruvajyoti Ghose, who is revered in the industry by the name of DJ. At a height of 100 meters, it is indeed daunting task to carry on installation work wherein the Gondola itself swings to the gyrating effect of wind albeit dangerously enough to send shimmers down the spine. The need was to find a technical solution to be able to light the building without exposing the hardware.
“For this, we created tailor-made contraption so that light needs not be put directly on the structure,” said Pathak, the reason he was quick to point out was the maintenance and ease of function for such arrangement. In fact, in all his projects the light is always concealed on the backdrop using various innovative and cost-effective fabrications. The major challenge in this project was the mounting of light dots on the top most part of protruding structure on façade at a height of 100 meters, maintaining symmetry and the effect had to be in perfect symphony.
“A team climbed from below spiraling 100 mts and another from top came down and thus the daunting task of installing this stretch of these light was accomplished. “Looking at the complexity and the risk involved I was not very much sure whether Imagineering services can complete this stretch but once they did it I was really amazed and bewildered at the expertise they have honed over the years installing lighting in high rise buildings,” said Raghvendra, VP, Prestige Group, who also said that their work displays impeccable standards though on tight budgets with a furrow on his face.
Bilal Masjid: A charity project Masjid-E-Eidgah Bilal from Prestige Construction, on Bannerghatta Road in Bengaluru became the talk of the town, which has been designed by Numero Uno Lighting designer Satish Rana. He employed the technique of accentuating elements in a mesmerising manner. Quoting Johann Wolfgang, Rana said, “Music is liquid architecture; architecture is frozen music.” This project truly encompasses examples in design and innovation in lighting, functionality required to accentuate focal points that commanded attention.
“Aiming the light fittings on the four minarets was like putting soul into the building. It took 5 days to have the right aiming direction so that the minarets come to life as it was conceptualised. Play of shadow and light, as envisaged by the designer. However, installation of the 40 projectors took 3 days,” added Pathak. “In any design, light fittings need not be the main actor but a background score. This was intended and executed well by the installation team,” added Rana.
Saleh Ahmed: A commercial project situated on old Bengaluru Landmark Infantry road, the heart of the city that is close to cricket stadium has been decorated with a very unique design by the light designer, Dashak Agrawal’s firm, named Love of Light. “The concept of the building is based on geometrical shapes. Thus the design warranted not only to mimic the basic architecture, but also the night-time glory using innovative mix of light elements,” he added.
“Lighting from below and upwards using downlights created exaggerated sense of height; but only 50 mm space available was the challenge that needed to be overcome while installing the light fittings. A drama was created with diamond shaped effect using Amber and White light, resulting in a visual delight for the passersby,” commented Pathak from Imagineering Services.
Thus the building architecture got complemented and extreme care was taken to avoid light becoming the object. All this was a true reflection of Imagineering Services’ mantra that reads as: Thinking Global and Acting Local. The product, the lenses and everything else, all has been Made in India in squeezed budget meeting tighter deadlines. The lighting thus is welcoming on one hand, and yet maintain a deep sense of individuality and a marquee feeling.
Havells India in Architectural Illumination:
Light is not a mere ornament but a significant instigator of dynamism. Sensible lighting excites the optic nerves, and in turn, stimulates the body and spirit, quickens the appetite, awakens curiosity and sharpens the wit. India with its rich history has many historical monuments that have been ruined, unattended or left without any lighting at night. They are in need of much attention at night as they get in the day. In this area, two projects by Havells India Ltd. are worth mentioning:
Humayun’s Tomb: As part of its CSR initiative, in partnership with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) and in guidance from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the grand white marble dome of Humayun’s Tomb has come alive in night-time by RGB architectural lighting from Havells. “This project exemplified the cumulative rigour of creativity and craftsmanship by Havells India,” said Ratish Nanda, CEO of AKTC, which has taken the responsibility to get the monument restored.
Illumination of the dome was a challenge because lighting had to be designed in a way to prevent any shadow on its surface. Visible from major road networks such as the Ring Road, Barahpullah elevated road, and Nizamuddin Bridge, the illumination has significantly enhanced the skyline of historic Delhi.
To design shadow is to design light. “No space can exist without shadow. Light and shadow are revered forms and thus based on this brief we took the challenge to incorporate the basic vision into the scheme of things,” commented Havells Colorscape Team.
Ace photographer Ram Rahman has captured the surreal splendour of Humayun’s Tomb in the night sky. The images fill us with a sense of awe as we see the geometric perfection, the study of space juxtaposed against the play of light; the striking characteristics of materials; and meticulous craftsmanship that harks back to the 16th century.
“The gilded finial that glistens in the night sky is an emblem of the science of sacred geometry, which lies in the perfection of its reflection of the physical world and its representation of how strongly humanity is governed by geometry,” said Rahman adding that the Humayun’s Tomb night photos with the new illumination were made for the Aga Khan Development network for which I have been photographing the restoration and the Basti development initiative.
“These were the first to be made with a Fuji medium format digital camera with a 23 mm lens (equal to an 18mm on a 35mm camera). The sensor on this camera can capture an amazing range of contrast in the bright and the dark areas. But I did multiple exposures of each frame and the final image is carefully composed from three exposures,” he said.
Purana Quila: The Monochromatic Warm Colour is used to create the allure and bring alive the magnificence and the pristine glory. Timeless question how to render soul into building and the reply is as usual, use lighting as a discipline to sanction this transformations. Showing that progress & history need not to be at odds, light responds to the love-affair between architecture and light.
The special lighting effect covered the outside wall of the fort, main entrance gate, a mosque inside the old fort, and the parking area that was lit up with landscape lighting. The goal of the project was not only to light up the fort, but the entire area aimed at bringing back its sheen and increase night tourism with local visitors and foreigners. Thus the spirit of the space has come alive to render that, which was unexplainable, recognising and accentuating the emotions using light as leitmotif.