Breaking the Surface – Kinetic Architectural Awesomesauce

ctrl+NScandinavian Design Group, Kontur, Abida, and Intek, and Lundin Norway all got together and made this amazing kinetic, interactive being called Breaking the Surface, or otherwise known as the booth design for Lundin Norway’s ONS 2014 conference presence.  Lundin Norway does oil and gas exploration, so of course they would have the tons of bread that goes into making something this amazing!  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we ALL had this kind of design budget?  Holy crap!

ctrl-n-breaking-the-surface-lundin-D

ctrl-n-breaking-the-surface-lundin-E

Project Leader:
Scandinavian Design Group

Interior Architect:
ctrl+N

Architect:
Kontur

Robotic and Programming Engineer:

Abida

Installation and Fabrication Engineer:

Intek

Client:

Lundin Norway

Breaking the Surface – Lundin visit at Raufoss from SDG Oslo on Vimeo.

Breaking the Surface – filmed by Bjorn Gunnar Staal from Ctrl+N on Vimeo.

That’s A Light Shame: Oklahoma City’s United States District Court House Exterior Lighting FAIL

I’m starting a new segment here on JimOnLight.com called “That’s A Light Shame.”  What this segment will focus on is shameful lighting situations all over the world, from safety to aesthetic, from art fails to general all-around epic fails.

I have found something that needs some shame shame shame finger pointing, perhaps because of its grand significance in the economy right now, or perhaps just because I’m anal-retentive and it’s been like this for nearly a year, continually getting worse.  With the economy being how it is (as daintily as Christina Romer put it the other day on Real Time with Bill Maher, ‘we’re pretty darned f**ked) and the growing frustration of the American people with our governmental fails right now, you’d figure that something like the exterior lighting of a US District Court house would warrant even some symbolistic care, right?

Nope, fail.  Non lighting designers could probably give two shakes in the wind (?) about this subject, or the entire thing altogether.  But for those of us interested in urban panning and city image, this thing looks like a freshly swollen canker sore on the face of Oklahoma City.  See for yourself – here are some images of the US District Court house in Oklahoma City, right across the street from the site of one of the most horrific attacks in American history, the Murrah Building bombing.  Perhaps that’s yet another reason to change those lamps and perhaps replace some filters, being that the OKC Memorial is right across the street, and people visit it at all times of the day and night.  Check it out below.

Here’s the court house during the day, both from afar (my balcony) and a bit of a more zoomed-in shot:

Ha haa, look, it’s a toy court house!

Now here is the first bit of exterior lighting degradation, when apparently some color filters were removed from the fixtures in the little vertical coves on the center of the facade.  Notice the Court House over on the left of this city view shot:

Here is what the last several months have been like on the front of the building – some fixtures completely out, some without filters (which apparently are supposed to be that steel blue like in the others).  These pictures were taken when my bestie was in town back in early June, and the lamps had been out for months before that as well.

 

These last two shots are of the court house on the evening of August 10, 2011:

Call me anal (or don’t, as I really don’t appreciate it, funny enough), but this is an eyesore on Oklahoma City’s downtown image.  I spend a LOT of time looking at the image of downtown, listening to the sounds that the city makes when it wakes, lives, and sleeps.  Right now, downtown Oklahoma City is kind of a disaster with all of the Project 180 stuff that’s going on – perhaps this too will get fixed at some point in the future.  Hopefully someone who has some influence on this situation will read this post and take some action.  I think Oklahoma City is a pretty cool city, and having an attention to detail is something for which we should all strive, especially when so many other things are being done to “update” the image of the downtown area.

But hey – WHAT a great start to what I am SURE will become a pretty hilarious segment on JimOnLight.com!  If you have your own Light Shames, send me an email through the contact form, let’s get them published and corrected!  Together, we have a very loud and important voice.  Let’s do the world some Light Good!

Part L of the Building Regulations Code in the United Kingdom – A Mini EISA Scenario?

Here at JimOnLight.com, sense is trying to be made of the current labyrinth (movie starring Jennifer Connolly and David Bowie) that is the Energy Independence and Safety Act (EISA).  As we dig deeper and deeper into a piece of legislation that could actually do some good if it wasn’t so heavily balanced on income, news of some changes in a similar-but-not-same legislation in another country has some interesting components that need discussing.  it’s called PART L of the Building Regulations in the United Kingdom.  Ever heard of it?

PART L is a bit of legislation in England and Wales that generally tries to legislate the consumption of fuel and power in buildings.  Obviously there is a lot to this document; and in a document that has a lot, it’s bound to have flaws.  How many of these flaws will be allowed to get through?  A lot of people think time will tell, but the time to act to change some of the absurdity is running out to affect a change to get implemented any time soon.  The next opportunity to make a change?  2016.

If you’re interested in checking out the actual verbage of PART L, here’s a link directly to it.  Here’s the latest changes to the PART L document, too.

Basically, PART L is broken up into four parts.  L1 pertains to dwellings, L2 pertains to non-dwellings:

  • L1A:  New dwellings
  • L1B:  Existing Dwellings
  • L2A:  New Buildings other than Dwellings
  • L2B:  Existing Buildings other than dwellings

From what I understand, one large portion of the hullaballoo with PART L right now is in the way it deals with “energy efficiency.”  Generally, the issue is in the way that said energy efficiency is actually legislated.  Right now, PART L deals with a luminaire’s efficacy, and people involved in wanting to improve the legislation want to move to a lighting systems-based efficacy.  Doesn’t that kinda make more sense?  It does seem like we should be done with relying on the good ol’ toggle light switch, it is 2011 after all.

I had a quick conversation with lighting designer and Twitter persona Liz Peck about this PART L business – to get more information on it from someone who’s right in the middle of it.  Liz gave an excellent PowerPoint presentation on the PART L Regulations, and has been published in LUX Magazine.  Liz is also principal at LPA Lighting, her lighting design firm.

The interview:

JOL:  Liz, can you fill me in on what PART L means for people living where PART L would be implemented? What would an outside observer to PART L need to know?

Liz Peck:  Part L of the Building Regulations governs the “conservation of fuel and power” and it applies to all new and refurbished buildings in England & Wales. Scotland & Northern Ireland have different building regulations but in essence they all follow the same pattern. It’s divided into domestic and non-domestic buildings, but for both, compliance with Part L is based almost entirely on luminaire or lamp efficacy. This means that the application of lighting is often lost, especially in projects where specialist lighting designers are not involved – the principle is that as long as the luminaire complies, then it’s an energy efficient scheme.

As a lighting engineer, what does PART L mean?
It means very little as it’s so easy to comply with. I don’t think it really influences how we approach the lighting of buildings; most lighting designers would comply with Part L without even trying.

PART L seems a little like the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) here in the United States.  EISA has a lot of very confusing aspects to it, and people in the US generally have no idea what it means.  Is PART L a lot like that with respect to its complex nature? What could be done to alleviate confusion?
From what I know of it, the ambitions of the EISA are a little greater, though they certainly have some similarities in the use of energy efficient light sources. The confusion in Part L lies predominantly with its flaws, of which there are many. For instance, in non-domestic buildings, it allows an efficient luminaire to be left on in an empty building because there is no need for controls beyond a manual on/off switch. How can that ever be thought of as efficient? Equally, for some areas in the building, the targets remain on lamp efficacy with no regard to luminaire performance, so in theory you could have a ‘black box’ luminaire with zero light output but if it contained T5 lamps, it would be compliant! In domestic buildings, it’s not much better: the requirement is for 75% of “light fixtures” to be energy efficient (40 l/w) but there is no requirement for the fixtures to be dedicated, so the reality is that the plans get approved with either CFL or LED lamps specified in traditional lampholders and then as soon as the occupants move in, they switch the lamps to less efficient sources that they prefer!

Are there cons to PART L with respect to the way it legislates luminaires instead of systems?
I think it’s the lack of need for controls which is its biggest flaw; we’re a decade into the 21st Century and the ‘recommended’ controls strategy is a manual switch. We really need to move on; the controls aspect is so out of date, it’s almost unbelievable. To have a situation in 2010 when absence and daylight sensors are considered advanced lighting controls for new buildings is a joke. These are basic controls which no new building should be without unless they have very good reason. The old adage of the most efficient luminaire is the one which is switched off when it’s not needed doesn’t apply to Part L. Things have to change.

What else should people know?
Trying to get most people to understand lumens per watt is fruitless; most people running a building, whether it’s their own home or a commercial office understand only two metrics: energy and money. Metering is becoming more prevalent in commercial buildings and is being introduced into the domestic market – maybe when people can see just how much energy they are using through lighting, they will start to think about improving it, but all the time the Building Regulations only require the use of efficient sources and not their application, we will (sadly) continue to see inefficient lighting schemes being installed. We must move to a systems-based approach, with targets on energy consumption, if we are to really make a difference in the future.

I also did some digging and found an interesting article at LUX Magazine on this subject, written by Iain Carlile of DPA Lighting Design.  Iain’s article, entitled “Why We Must Fight for PART L,” had some very direct commentary on PART L legislation.  In reference to why PART L needs changing:

Part L is correct in its requirement to reduce energy consumption, but the metrics used for lighting are quite crude and predominantly only cover the efficacy of the luminaire — not the total energy consumption of the lighting system.

This leaves us in a ludicrous situation. The lighting scheme can comply with the requirements of Part L but still waste energy through the unnecessary lighting of unoccupied or daylit areas.

For example, look at many commercial properties where all of the lighting is on throughout the night when the space is unoccupied. These installations can have efficient luminaires and lamps, achieving low installed electrical load per unit area and high luminaire efficacies. But the absence of simple occupancy controls means the lighting can remain on for more than twice the required operational hours, wasting a huge amount of energy.

The installation may meet the requirements of Part L, yet in fact the installation can be quite wasteful of energy because the lighting is not switched off when it is not required.
Recent advances in technology make it possible to specify LEDs for ambient lighting that emit an excellent quality of light across the visual spectrum, with a colour temperature and colour rendering properties that compare favourably with tungsten lamps.

Iain’s resolution to PART L?

For this situation to be resolved, future revisions of Part L must change the metric used for measuring the energy efficiency of a lighting installation.

We must as an industry challenge the existing legislation and push for a suitable metric that considers not just the efficacies of lamps and luminaires but also includes factors such as lighting controls, dimming levels, hours of operation, daylight linking and presence detection.

Only then will we have legislation that allows the intelligent application of the ‘right light, right place, right time’ philosophy.

Personally, I am glad to see that the Society of Light and Lighting is pushing for a move to systems-based targets in the next revision of Part L.

If you’re looking for a quick five-minute overview on PART L, check out this video below:

Do you think that the public would feel good about PART L if they had someone explain it to them so that it made sense?  As far as EISA goes, that seems to be a lot of the problem.  Perhaps if more people knew about the legislation that the government was trying to put in place they could make a more informed decision.  It’s nice to know that at least America isn’t the only country in the world in which its people have to actually TRY to find out the real truth about things in which its government is involved.

Something I found pertinent and relevant from the LUX Mag article was a quote from Martin Valentine, a lighting expert in Abu Dhabi City.  He talks about the way we need to go forward:

‘We need to be looking at controls and overall limits as well as luminaire efficiency. But we also need to not lose sight of light quality. The four things work hand in hand.’

Valentine warned that the danger with complicated legislation is that nobody really knows what is going on. He believes Part L is a good thing but needs to move with the times, rather be caught behind.

He said: ‘It needs to evolve and it needs to be clear cut. People need to know what’s going on and benchmarks need to be in place.’

Thanks to LUX Mag, Liz Peck, iRed, and Wikipedia!

The Importance of Light Sources in Architectural Lighting Design Choices

I have a very interesting view from my apartment.  As you can imagine, since I’m typically only home after the sun goes down to appreciate it, I spend a lot of time gazing at the city, Oklahoma City.  I have a great view of most of downtown from my 13th floor city view condo, and I have large windows that open to air, allowing me to get great unimpeded shots of the entire area.

I take a lot of pictures of downtown Oklahoma City – it is so interesting to me to watch the city go from sunset to artificial light, almost as if it has a beating heart that only comes alive at night.  To watch the buildings flicker alive with their exterior illumination is like watching a giant living, breathing, feeling being come into its own each day as the sun goes to bed.

There is one thing that of course I would notice over all other beauty in my downtown view – poorly maintained architectural lighting.  As such a fan of great design in lighting and architecture, when I see a building that generally has aesthetically pleasing features, and then I see those features slaughtered by poorly maintained exterior lighting.  It’s kinda like falling in love with someone and getting dumped on your tukus for no reason – a major disappointment.  That example might be a wee bit extreme, but I think I get the point across – bad architectural lighting makes a city look ugly.

I think this really comes down to light source choice when planning the exterior illumination design.  As designers, we are responsible (at least in MY head) for choosing lighting that is going to not only support the architecture, but to accentuate it as well.  This comes down to many things overall – and I think one of them is being well versed in the lamp life and longevity of both lamps and fixtures that we choose to add to buildings.  If you choose poorly in your exterior lighting fixture and lamp choices, then your design is going to become the victim of maintenance.

Case in point:  Oklahoma City’s Museum of Art – I have a clear view of the building from my apartment.  What really sucks is that I don’t have a picture of the building with all of the architectural lighting working.  I’ve lived in my apartment since mid-July 2010.  Check out the building illuminated at night:

I’ve been on top of that building – changing the lamps in the architectural lighting atop the museum is not difficult because you can literally walk around and access most of the bases.  However, there have to be several thousand lamps in that design (the lamps are a bit bigger than C-9’s), and changing them what seems to be at least bi-weekly seems to be the only way to have them all work.

Would you say that this lighting design is efficiently using maintenance’s time?

Here’s another look at the structure, this time less of them are burned out:

And another with more lamps out:

Another building in town that has interesting potential (and has a pretty good record for upkeeping the architectural lighting) is the OG&E building in downtown Oklahoma City.  The OG&E building has a large swath of red fixtures lining the top of the building itself – I don’t know if they’re neon or just fluorescent with a red diffuser, but it’s generally an interesting look:

Now here’s the OG&E building when some of its fixtures are out:

Just doesn’t quite look the same, huh.

When you make design choices, always try to take into consideration what your work will look like when it’s not maintained.  I think that the aspect of a poorly maintained lighting design isn’t always taken into consideration – which leads to bigger problems in the end.

Chew on THAT!

RED Prime Steak in Oklahoma City – You Need to Train for This Much Awesome

I’m trying not to be a big fat ass this year.  I’ve been pretty successful so far, I’ve lost a few pounds a week.  The one thing I’ve tried hard to do is to stop eating fast food, and instead spend that money on the nicer restaurants around the world.  I’m a lighting nerd, OBVIOUSLY, so one of my favorite parts of this lifestyle change is enjoying the unbelievable lighting designs that the nicer restaurants offer.

I got a bit of a wild hair the other day while driving through downtown Oklahoma City – I saw this place called RED Prime Steak on Broadway, over by Bricktown.  Myself and local photographer Kristen Lee of the famous Stella Shot Me photography studios went to check out the scene.  I mean, after all the entire place is red inside from the street.  At first glance from the road, RED looks like a pretty upscale place.

Well, it is.  It’s pretty absolutely excellently awesomely upscale.  As a matter of fact, if you are into eating some unbelievably delicious bovine, enjoying some serious mixed drinks and wine (srsly) and being wow’ed by an outstanding lighting design, you need to check out this place.  From the moment you walk into the entrance, designer Rand Elliott’s vision of a “red wind” is ever present, leading you to the center of the venue.

The main bar – up front by the street level:

RED is full of all kinds of nooks and crannies, as well as open sections with tables and seating – Rand Elliott‘s initial design concept for RED was of that representing a “red wind.”  Elliott made this happen with strips of red neon on a grand aisle of the restaurant that shine onto the original brick walls of the restaurant.  It’s quite stunning, actually.  Below is a capture from the RED website with a rendering and a hand sketch:

Check out the “red wind” section of the restaurant – red neon tubes create the ambient light that filters throughout the venue:

Our server, Ross (who is also the head caterer for RED Prime Steak) gave us a tour of the entire facility (as well as providing some excellent choices and recommendations) – the restaurant has a ton of space above it that is used for parties, exquisite or otherwise; there are several very private booths and tables meant for romantic meals or parties of several people.  I’m a huge fan of steak AND light, so this is a place I’ll be revisiting very soon.

The best thing about the lighting design in my eyes is the attention to minute detail throughout the restaurant – a slice of neon hidden there, white accent lighting hidden in crannies to accentuate the soul of the room, and a sense of quality brought forth from the lighting to the food.

If you’re in Oklahoma City and you haven’t tried RED Prime Steak yet, I have no idea what you could possibly be waiting for to happen before you make your RED experience.

Check out a gallery of the images taken at RED Prime Steak that night – great photography by Kristen Lee of Stella Shot Me Photography Studios!  Click on a thumbnail and a magical land of full size images opens up for your enjoyment!

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.PSLAB Beirut and MYBAR

Wow, good morning world.  I have to apologize for the last week of relative dead space – I put in about 90 hours last week and toured my design of The Light in the Piazza to a theatre in Arkansas.  It’s been a crazy week!

But to welcome the little bit of sanity I am holding onto right now, I want to post about a new project that PSLAB in Beirut has done.  I got this from my pal Ramsey at the .PSLAB Beirut offices – I have to say that any time I get info from .PSLAB, I have been so impressed.  I get a lot of images from lighting firms all over the world, and .PSLAB produces some of my favorite works.  Their designs are just so worldly and original.

Check out the design for MYBAR, a new bar/restaurant in Beirut.  Some info from .PSLAB:

A bar/restaurant whose space is functionally divided into 3 areas; an entrance corridor, a drinking area, and a dining area. The entrance corridor leads to the drinking area which is separated from the dining area by an irregular shaped staircase extending from a rugged wall starting at the end of the corridor.

We used a line of uplights to light the entrance pathway and connect it to the drinking area.
The uplights continue parallel to the rugged wall and stairs producing a play of shadows created by the different layers in the wall.
The drinking area features floor to ceiling poles carrying small cups’ stands.
To accentuate the curvature of these poles, we set downlights at the top end of each creating a vertical beam of light detached from the rod.

The dining area is characterized by visible white ducts covering the ceiling and maintained over a two-level bar connecting the dining area to the drinking area. The furniture layout in this area follows the layout of those ducts.
We chose to use the visible ducts in order to create a lighting system unifying the two main sections of the space (drinking/dining). Hence, we developed lighting fixtures in white finish, fixed to the ceiling on the sides of the ducts. To have a rectangular horizontal beam of light centered over the tables, a gap created by the circular opening of the duct defines the shapes of the objects.
Continuing over the bar, the light objects are set on one side of the duct and in opposite directions in order to light the path behind the bar. Similarly for the sushi bar in the other end of the space.

Click on each of the images, they open into a gallery!

Beautiful.

PSLAB Beirut Lights Al Dente, Now It’s Well Done

Ha haaa, pardon the wordplay there, sometimes I just cannot help myself.  I just got word from my pal Ramsey at .PSLAB Beirut that the firm has just completed another concept project!  PSLAB is one of my top five favorite lighting design firms on the planet – they’re like my Chicago Blackhawks of the architectural lighting design world.

Press release below, then awesome imagery.  Ramsey, tell everybody I said excellent work!

Al Dente Restaurant, Beirut- Lebanon

.PSLAB BEIRUT was asked to develop a lighting concept for al dente restaurant in beirut–lebanon.
The high ceiling restaurant is divided into 3 areas: the main central area containing the entrance and the main hall, a secondary hall and a bar area.
We developed twig-like metallic fixtures to be mounted in clusters at the center axis connecting the entrance to the main hall.
For the secondary hall and bar area, we developed superposed brass discs carrying the light source and fixed to the ceiling by means of a metallic rod. The linear layout of the fixtures and the continuity of the line of light defines the depth of the spaces.

Check ‘em out:

Thanks, Ramsey!

Vesa Honkonen’s Lecture at KTH

vesa-honkonen

Last Thursday I was in attendance at a lecture given by Vesa Honkonen, an architect and lighting designer in Finland – Vesa came to KTH Haninge and gave a lecture on several topics, including art and the commercialization of design.  He was gracious enough to talk to us about several of his projects in recent past, and show us his process – including process sketches, notes, and images of projects in various stages of completion.

I have to admit that this lecture blew my mind open into little nondescript pieces.  We hadn’t started classes yet (we officially started lectures for the first course module last Monday), so it was an incredible start to our program.

The lecture was fantastic, I cannot say that enough – Vesa talked about many topics, but there were two that really rattled the inside of my cranium.  As lighting designers across the world in our respective industries we must consider what is mainstream and what is avant garde.  As ideas and designs that are new and different propagate in the industry and all around us, they’re considered avant garde.  This idea isn’t limited to any industry – it’s about art, design, and anything else subjective.  For example – my wife does amazing things with cascading style sheet programming, and I always consider her ideas and her understanding to be so far above the mainstream thinking that it amazes me every time she tells me about her projects.  At what point does her thinking about CSS become how everyone thinks?  At some point in every industry, in art, and in design, the mainstream thinking is replaced by what was once considered edgy, different, and not mainstream.

Thinking outside of the mainstream and going against the flow is how we progress.  This is not to say that everything mainstream is crap and that we have to find new solutions for everything in existence, but when you create, create.  Do what is best for the solution in your eyes, even if it is different than everything else you see.

This is a small bit of how the whole afternoon lecture with Vesa went – it was great.

He also told a story about Evert Lundquist, a painter and etcher from Sweden.  One day a poor engineer friend of Evert’s discovered him sitting in the dark, alone, in his studio.  The poor engineer friend had come by to visit Evert, and was curious as to why he was sitting alone.  The friend asked Evert, “why are you sitting alone in the dark?”

Evert replied, “I am simply waiting for the light.”

Thank you for your wonderful lecture, Vesa.  Please visit Vesa’s website, Vesa Honkonen Architects – His work is riveting.