Interaction between Visual Beauty and New Lighting Technologies for Nightscape of Buildings Facades

Document Type : Original Article


1 Associate Professor of Architecture, Department of Architecture, Faculty of Art and Architecture, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran.

2 M.A. in Architecture, Department of Architecture, Faculty of Art and Architecture, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran.


Architecture of the night is an interdisciplinary term which focuses on what may be seen and percepted by architectural building addressees at night. Literature reviews show that new technologies play a determining role in how a building may be seen at night. It is important to highlight that exterior lighting of buildings and their appearance at night is one of the important issues in architectural design. While the architect is not completely responsible for the impact of daylight on the appearance of a building, exterior lighting of the buildings at night is a design choice. Since the building façade is the main characteristic of a building, many of designers consider only beauty of it during the day and neglect its appearance at night. Nowadays considering the night life at the cities and the impact of facade of the buildings on the beauty of the cities, the appearance of buildings at night is as important as their appearance during the day. New lighting technologies have a lot to do with beauty, architecture of the night, artificial and natural light, exterior lighting, appearance of facades and lighting elements. Therefore this paper focuses on interaction of visual beauty and new lighting technologies for architecture of the night facades in contemporary architecture of Iran. This paper studies the impact of lighting on the appearance of buildings while comparing what people percept during day and night. For this purpose, a questionnaire was made in which some sample buildings were scored according to their beauty during the day and night. In this questionnaire, 20 architectural monuments, 10 Iranian monuments and 10 non-Iranian monuments were chosen randomly among well-known monuments which deploy various methods and techniques for exterior lighting. The chosen Iranian ذmonuments have architectural values and are well-known among Iranians and foreign experts. The non-Iranian monuments are buildings which are more known by architects and urban designers. Three groups of people were asked to fill in the questionnaires. These groups consist of 25 experts i.e. 10 students of urban design and 15 students of architectural engineering, and 25 non-expert people with different levels of education. As these three different groups of people could have different visual perceptions, and have different criteria for expressing the beauty, the collected data could provide reliable conclusions about the impact of lighting on beauty of the buildings during day and night. The questionnaire includes two images of each building: one showing the building during the day and one during the night with exterior lighting. We asked the respondents to score based on Likert scale. The respondent addressees were asked to specify how each element of lighting, i.e., light intensity, color diversity; lighting method i.e. emphasis techniques and distributed ideas; and lighting conditions i.e. harmony or variation, impact on the beauty of the buildings due to exterior lighting at night. Spreadsheet software such as SPSS 19 has been adopted to collect and analyze data. At first, the qualitative issues have been converted to quantitative ones in order to be analyzed quantitatively. The SPSS analysis indicates that exterior lighting of buildings can substantially increase the beauty of the buildings’ facades at night compared to their appearance during the day. This effect is more recognizable among considered non-Iranian monuments rather than Iranian monuments. However, if buildings are more abstracted they look more beautiful than non- abstracted buildings during the day even though their beauty is almost similar at night. Regarding the studied lighting elements, our study suggests that as the light intensity increases or single-color lights are used, buildings look more beautiful at night. Furthermore, accent lighting, where some elements and levels of the façade are highlighted more, rather than uniformly lighting the whole facade, and creating a harmony increases the beauty of nightscape of buildings. However, lighting intensity and method such as accenting or leveling out, are more influential acts on the beauty of the façades compare to the other two elements. As our study indicates lighting design can considerably affect the beauty  of buildings only if we use single color lights with proper intensity and avoid uniform lighting or a lighting which has no harmony with the buildings. The results show that visual beauty interactively correlate to deliberate adoption of new lighting technologies for night architecture of buildings facades. However it is very important to choose the best technique for lighting of each individual building. Therefore lighting technologies may be seen as a way for better architecture of the night while lighting enables us to show and highlight what we want to present which may result in more beautiful buildings in contemporary architecture.


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