RE: Falling in Love with Light

I have also visited the mausoleum at the Lakewood Cemetery and I agree the use of light was exquisite. The combination of a simple material pallet and an elegant orchestration of light is very powerful and I think something that we underestimate in everyday spaces. Most of the examples Mary shared were worship spaces, and the mausoleum itself is not a building most people visit, especially not on a regular basis. Why is it that we reserve such hi quality for areas of low frequency; why not bring the inspiration and elegance of light to our works paces and schools?

A few years ago I toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s property, Taliesin, in Spring Green, WI. The studio space of his school there has a fantastically designed roof and skylight system so that no matter if the outdoor light is direct sun or overcast sky the studio is well and evenly lit. At the time when Wright designed this space a high quality of natural light was necessary for hand drafting. Today the same light would be beautiful and inspiring but might pose glare problems for digital screens. In the technological age we have a new challenge to not only re-introduce natural light to spaces, but to consider control options depending on how the spaces are going to be used.

Interior view of work studio at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture in Spring Green, WI.

While I do not underestimate the importance of using natural light well in buildings, for environmental and artistic reasons, I think the reason we see it used most inspiringly in religious spaces is because the program of the space is programmed for drama and inspiration. We cannot always afford high contrast or intense glare in spaces we use every day. It is easy to say dramatic skylights are beautiful, but if we want to really achieve use of light as material (rather than accent) we need to use is effectively in spaces we use every day where the light needs are delicate and changing.


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