Thursday, February 16, 2012

Architecture Created in Light

1. Light Festival, Ghent, Belgium.
If you haven't discovered it already, TED is a great source for interesting lectures on your computer or as an ap on your hand held device. I keep it on my iPhone for down-time in the airport. TED is a nonprofit devoted to "Ideas Worth Spreading." It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing people together from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has broadened. Along with two annual conferences -- in Long Beach and Palm Springs -- and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer, TED includes award-winning talks on its video site. Many of them are architecture-related topics.
Pantheon, Rome. 

Notre Dame du Ronchamp by Corbusier.
A recent lecture by Roger van der Heide is worth checking out on TED: "Why Light Needs Darkness." Mr. Heide is a lighting designer who offers an insightful way to look at the world -- paying attention to light (and to darkness). His lecture is illustrated with examples from classic buildings (the Pantheon) to modern icons (Ronchamp). His vision is about the play of light around us. His ideas remind me of the book "In Praise of Shadows" by the Japanese novelist Jun'ichiro Tanizaki. Originally published in 1933, "In Praise of Shadows" was translated to English in 1977. It explores the meaning of dark in contrast to light in art, sculpture, architecture, and literature.
 55,000 LED lights...
Architects are used to considering sunlight inside and outside of buildings and since the nineteenth century we have been able to consider the effect of artificial lighting on architecture. But only recently has light become a building material in itself.  Consider the architectonic forms designed for the Light Festival in Ghent, Belgium. The Luminarie De Cagna created an LED cathedral in a neo-renaissance style. The structure employs 55,000 LED lights and is 91 feet tall at its peak.  It is tempting to fantasize about true renaissance architects like Michelangelo or Bernini might have done with the same materials.
.... in Ghent.

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