Mary Guzowski’s lecture on Lights as Material: The Orchestration of Light in Time brought this relatively simple idea of using as light as more than just a light source, she implies light as the actual building material. A great example she mentioned in her lecture that spoke to me as a great explanation of light as a material source to ensure a much greater experience of space is the Thermal Baths in Switzerland by Peter Zumthor. Zumthor incorporates light and the construction of light into a way that rewards people with a full body experience that would not have been created without his specific technologies of light.
“The meander, as we call it, is a designed negative space between the blocks, a space that connects everything as it flows throughout the entire building, creating a peacefully pulsating rhythm. Moving around this space means making discoveries. You are walking as if in the woods. Everyone there is looking for a path of their own.” This statement by Zumthor gives precedent to his ideals of creating a virtual experience within this structure. This bath is much more than just a place where people go to swim around and relax, he creates an experience by his uses of space and light. The play of these negative dark spaces against the highly controlled light sources embodies something much greater than just a space. This I believe is done by using light as an actual method of material rather than just a form allowing light to enter in the building. The image below illustrates his use of light as much more than simply a light source. In this room he utilizes light and the lack of light to create an experience. The usage of dark materials, and the one sided light source are what gives this room the dark and mysterious yet relaxing space.
Zumthor achieved a place in space that has the ability to change a person’s perspective through a given experience. This is achieved by his usage of light as an actual material in the construction of the complex. An article from Arch Daily states this total mind and body experience that Zumthor creates perfectly, The stone rooms were designed not to compete with the body, but to flatter the human form (young or old) and give it space…room in which to be. The building is created to work with the body not against it to create the experience of the space.
Mary Guzowski, Light as Material: The Orchestration of Light in Time, Lecture, 11/20/12