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Architectural lighting best practices

Architectural lighting plays a crucial role in enhancing the functionality and aesthetics of a space.

As an interior designer, architect or lighting specifier, what are the key considerations when designing lighting schemes? Here are some best practices to consider when designing lighting for a space.

Architectural lighting best practices

Architectural lighting design best practices - overview

Firstly, start with a well-thought-out lighting design plan. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, and your lighting plan should take into account the goals and requirements of your project’s space, as well as the desired atmosphere.

Your goal is to create a cohesive lighting scheme that incorporates various lighting types such as ambient, task, and accent lighting.

Next, carefully select your light sources. Consider the colour temperature of the light, which can greatly impact the mood and perception of a space. Use warmer colour temperatures to create a cosy and intimate environment, while cooler colour temperatures are ideal for productivity and focus.

Light levels are also important to consider. Ensure that the lighting in different areas of the space is appropriate for the intended activities. For example, higher light levels may be needed for task-oriented areas, while lower light levels can create a calming ambiance in relaxation areas.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the impact of lighting on the space and its occupants. Lighting can greatly affect the mood, productivity, and well-being of people. Consider incorporating circadian rhythms and natural lighting strategies to promote a healthy and comfortable environment.

By following these best practices, you can create a well-designed lighting installation that enhances the architectural space and positively impacts those who occupy it.

Lighting design tips

Lighting design tips

Creating a modern lighting design for commercial and residential spaces requires careful consideration of several key factors.

First and foremost, it is essential to think about light distribution, brightness level, and energy-efficiency.

Properly distributing light throughout your project’s space ensures that all areas are adequately illuminated, while maintaining appropriate brightness levels promotes a comfortable and inviting atmosphere.

Energy efficient lighting

Incorporating energy-efficient lighting solutions not only reduces electricity costs but also aligns with sustainability goals and relevant UK Building Regulations, including Part L, Future Building Standards and LENI.

A way to measure energy efficiency is by luminaire lumens, which is the level of light produced by a fitting after you take into account the light that’s lost through absorption by the reflector, diffuser or shade.

This is an important consideration because even the most energy-efficient light bulbs might lose efficiency and energy if they are fitted with a certain material as a shade or diffuser.

This has an impact on your lighting designs as you must determine whether to include LED lighting without decorative shades in your lighting systems, which is typically recessed lighting. If you wish to use more decorative lighting designs, material choice, overall design, and diffuser shape/size are all important factors in lighting efficiency.

In order for lighting schemes in office, industrial, and storage facilities to comply with papers L2A and L2B, the sum of all general light fittings must average 60 luminaire lumens per circuit watt.

Lighting fixture aesthetics

Another crucial aspect is selecting the right lighting fixtures that match the appearance and functionality of the space.

Whether it is sleek and minimalistic fixtures for a contemporary setting or ornate and decorative luminaries for a more traditional ambiance, choosing the appropriate style enhances the overall aesthetic.

Our range of downlights enable you to integrate concealed lighting fixtures into a ceiling. A popular option includes the Corona Pro downlight where you can choose from a selection of material options to match your interior, while offering a range of light sources, colour temperatures and beam angles.

It can also be integrated with a range of controls ensuring a more energy efficient scheme.

For a more decorative approach to your lighting schemes, you can also opt for ceiling surface lights. A popular option among design professionals is the Danny Air Surface, offering stylish looks in a range of colours, with a range of light sources, colour temperatures and beam angles.

Users can also adujst the light fixtures as the Danny Air Surface has an adjustable 90 degree tilt as well as a 320 degree rotation of the light unit.

By considering these lighting design tips, commercial spaces can achieve a modern, functional, and visually appealing lighting scheme.

Sustainable lighting design principles

Architectural lighting techniques

Architectural lighting design relies on various techniques to create visually appealing and functional spaces.

Here are some commonly used techniques you should consider for your project’s design:

Ambient lighting

This technique provides overall illumination to an interior space, ensuring a comfortable level of lighting for activities.

It can be achieved through general overhead lighting, such as recessed or track lights, or through indirect lighting, where the light is bounced off surfaces to create a soft and diffused glow. Ambient lighting sets the mood and enhances the aesthetics of the space.

Accent lighting

This technique focuses on highlighting specific architectural elements or objects in a space.

It uses spotlights or directional lights to create emphasis and draw attention. Accent lighting can be used to showcase artwork, sculptures, or architectural features, adding depth and drama to the overall design.

Task Lighting

This technique is used to provide focused lighting for specific tasks or activities.

It typically includes desk lamps, under-cabinet lights, or directional lights that illuminate work surfaces. Task lighting ensures ample visibility and reduces eye strain in areas where detailed work is performed, such as in kitchens, offices, or reading areas.

Each architectural lighting technique has its advantages and applications. Ambient lighting sets the overall mood and provides general illumination, while accent lighting adds visual interest and focuses on specific features. Task lighting is essential for areas that require concentrated illumination for specific tasks.

By layering these lighting designs, it creates a visually dynamic and functional space for your clients.

Architectural lighting fixtures

Architectural lighting fixtures play a crucial role in lighting design, contributing to the overall aesthetic and functionality of a space.

There are various types of fixtures commonly used in architectural lighting design, each serving a specific purpose and adding a unique element to the lighting scheme.

Recessed lights (or downlights) are popular fixtures that are installed flush with the ceiling or wall, providing a clean and minimalist look. They are versatile and can be used for ambient, accent, or task lighting, depending on the chosen light bulb and placement.

Track lights consist of a track-mounted system with adjustable fixtures that can be easily repositioned. They are ideal for highlighting specific areas or objects in a space and offer flexibility in directing the light beam.

Pendant lights are suspended from the ceiling with a cord or chain, creating an eye-catching focal point. They are frequently used for ambient or accent lighting, adding a stylish and decorative element to the design.

Wall sconces are fixtures mounted on walls that provide both functional and aesthetic lighting. They are often used for ambient or accent lighting, casting a warm and inviting glow.

When choosing architectural lighting fixtures, it is important to consider factors such as the purpose of the lighting, the desired atmosphere, and the size and layout of the space.

Additionally, energy efficiency and maintenance requirements should be taken into account to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

In conclusion, architectural lighting fixtures, such as recessed lights, track lights, pendant lights, and wall sconces, are essential elements in lighting design. They serve different purposes and contribute to the overall lighting scheme while adding beauty and functionality to the space.

Detail Lighting can provide further guidance for your architectural lighting project

The Detail Lighting team have a wealth of knowledge of architectural lighting and would be happy to advise you on your project. Contact us to see how we can help.

Can we help?

For a no-obligation chat about your architectural lighting designs, please contact us using our online form, by email at, or by calling 01908 613256.

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