art, 照明, effects, science

Twilight Gazing

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It happened that I have received a call this late afternoon, and unconsciously — as we all do — went out on the balcony carrying a cup of tea in one hand, my phone pressed to my ear by a shoulder. Suddenly I focused not on the conversation but on a colours of setting sun. I had to excuse myself and pretended something urgent had happened and promised to call back. I live in this building for several years now, and I have just realised that none of the sunsets I have been witnessing repeated themselves.

The Sun, in the meanwhile, was heading West and glass glazing was bidding a farewell to it with hues of orange, pink, lilac and blue, and aquamarine. Is there enough words in any vocabulary to label at least a million hues? Of course, not.

When original awe has gone, and I was able to function like a normal human being, I had returned the call, and inside the living room to my book. I have flipped the page to find an essay of Georgia Frances King, a Melbourne (Australia) borne, Brooklyn based editor for Kinfolk magazine. Her essay was on light. I dug a bit deeper in her writing, and found a piece “The Meaning of Light.” That inquisitive and so softly written feature led me to a discovery of Stephen Auger. Stephen is and artist and color theorist from Santa Fe, New Mexico. He holds as well degree in the Neurophysiology of Color Perception.

I won’t even dare to describe the artist’s technique, instead I will let critics do this. Here is what Diane Armitage says: “Auger’s paintings are shimmering veils of paint combined with impossibly tiny crystal spheres that range from 40 to 100 microns in diameter. The result is that each painting must be read not only in terms of its color and radiant light, by also by its surface topography. Working with the crystals embedded in oil-based pigments, Auger manipulates his canvases in such a way that the paint’s viscous properties allow for flowing, pooling, and a complex layering of materials that mimic sedimentation. And so his work is as much about topography and the forces of erosion as it is about the fugitive quality of light. No two angles of viewing a painting by Auger will produce the same chromatic effects, the same reflectivity.”

In his work, The Twilight Array, the artist collaborates with experts in neuroscience and special illumination to use square paintings made of particles emitting, reflecting and radiating a very special wavelength of light perceivable only at very low light levels. Scientists call this a mesopic vision. Artist’s idea is that a viewer shall experience the sensation of a twilight not as a fleeting but continuous sensation.

Have you ever bought yourself wishing that feeling never ended?

Source of a photo: artist’s website.

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comfort, controls, 照明, lighting, science, stars of lighting design, tomorrowlight, visual, wellbeing

Fagerhult Lighting Academy at Intersect by Lexus

DUBAI. Fagerhult in association with APID has held an event at the city’s trendiest places, Intersect by Lexus. This unique event brought together architects, interior designers and lighting industry professionals to discuss the phenomena of light. Conversation was kindled by Henrik Clausen, the Director of Fagerhult Lighting Academy. Henrik spoke of the human aspect of light. “Light makes us recognise each other as living beings,” Clausen said. His talk called for deeper understanding of the effect of light in any environment on personal wellbeing. This visionary approach supported by the academic research in Denmark results in adoption of new standards by manufacturing and consulting community and novel methods of controlling light.

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controls, 照明, Data, IoT, lighting, urban

Street Lighting as a Network

 

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THE VERY IDEA OF A SMART CITY is amassing data from an urban multifaceted tissue and use it for the benefit of a community. Smart City is no longer a concept, it is a reality realised to varying degrees across the planet. A town on the foot of the Ural mountains might not have advanced building management systems, although its citizens would fully enjoy state of the art transportation app. Penetration of smart technologies interaction between a city dweller and a city manager has different depth and it is happening.

Advancement of telecommunication, internet and computing technologies and its symbiosis with manufacturing, services, logistics is driven in a greatest degree by a private sector. Vendors and providers better each other in giving consumer the most lucrative piece of tech, and communities get filled in with devices, solutions, apps and things that organise their lives, move them around and protect them.

There is another stream that moves in the opposite direction to this wave of technology in cities, a wave that has its aim to govern and unify the wild dance of private tech. There is no doubt, when these two streams meet, a pool of properly governed city technology shall emerge.

One of the steps of this sort is a British Standards company, BSI Group, report published in 2015 City Data Survey Report has defined main data sets, which over thirty cities that took part in the survey, found critical for functioning of a smart city.

There are fourteen data sets, of which the most important are social, infrastructure and energy. We shall focus on energy on this page, however today’s technology wipes off categorisation in managing a city, and energy alone appears to be too short sighted, as its impact on social and infrastructure or, say, geospatial development, is too significant.

Chart for Networked Lighting

Traditionally one of the largest contributors to a city energy spend is a street lighting. Number of lamps and their furniture is measured in thousands even in a small size community. You have your roads, your streets, your alleys and car parks. For decades architects and urban planners vocalised how good street lighting affects citizens’ wellbeing and feeling for security, and when light emitting diodes emerged, engineers have thought up of a new function for a city lighting. If each diode is a semiconductor then data transmission is possible. An aha moment that many a computer geeks experienced in early 80s: there are two computers and a modem. Machines can talk to each other!

There it started back in the second decade of the second millennium. Lighting seized being solely lighting anymore, it became a medium. Industry was disrupted, and all conversations today are about connectivity. Industry fairs look more like IT symposiums. Yet what is it for a city in connecting lights?

When a city manager steps out on the road to seek for an answer to this question, he or she would find not even a crossroad, but a noodle multilevel interchange of choices, standards, protocols and even consequences.

These are just a handful of services connected lighting can offer:

  1. Control and operational monitoring. Switching lights on and off, or conditional dimming (based on the time of day, natural illuminance or presence of dwellers) are prime functions in this category, but there is also a possibility to monitor power usage in real time and tracking status of the fixture.
  2. Asset management including almost all operating characteristics. Simply put, maintenance crew would be informed of the symptoms of potential failure before the luminaire fails.
  3. Metering. Apparently this feature is the least popular amongst some authorities. With all benefits of real time metering of energy use, there are still nay-sayers who doubt that this measurement is accurate. Advocates of the approach site that a luminaire that switches on when its built-in sensor detects daylight has reached a threshold and turns on the light source, consumes much less energy than the luminaire that is programmed to switch on at seven pm sharp. Communities that use LED lighting may also benefit from the special tariffs calculated for this type of light source as opposed to a conventional one.
  4. Security. Gunshot detection and triangulation. Acoustic sensors carried by the luminaire shall detect and signal law enforcement professionals exact location of an accident. Another basic feature is CCTV monitoring. There are fixtures already that incorporate a sleek camera that no longer spoils aesthetics of a fixture. Chemical and radiation detection is possible too.
  5. Footfall and traffic detection, a feature that urban management shall find useful, as well as retailers and property developers. One of the ways is to count…phones connected to a wireless network, although this data might not be fully accurate. We all know people who carry two phones on them.

Examples of connected lighting already exist. Majority are in the US (San Diego, Jacksonville and others). Glasgow boasts one of the most advanced systems in Europe. The city beats contenders by the fact that data from the networked lights are transmitted to their central operations centre.

When was the last time you had to plug in a cable to your laptop to go online? True, WiFi is everywhere. Although a city network goes beyond this. Market flourishes with choices: LoRa, Sigfox, LiFi and the fifth generation of mobile networks to name the few.

LiFi runs on light waves as opposed to radio waves used by WiFi and this makes the speed of data transmission incredibly fast. LED’s can be used as transmitters. LiFi has a lot of opponents as well as proponents and technology is developing very fast so that the results may be expected very soon.

5G is on the rise and telecoms are wiring their gears to spread the network in full steam.

LoRa today is considered one of the most secure, reliable and accessible formats for connecting Things into Internet. LoRa stands for Low Power Wide Area Network; it works on different frequencies of the free radio spectrum, which helps penetrate even in the underground locations.

PoE or Power over Ethernet is being explored by CISCO-Philips alliance. The European lighting leader has brought the way of energising and simultaneously controlling its lighting installation indoor. Ethernet today is capable of carrying 60W of power, which is enough for an office or a school yet still not there for an outdoor application.

Research and debates are underway which of this format prevails and communities should be included in the discussion: they will be the ones living with the chosen format of data and power transmission.

The point several degrees more important than the transmission is data. As with all on the internet: who shall own it? When you had your power grid, there was no options: energy authority would install, maintain and manage the assets. Today it is not so straight forward. What is of more value? Tangible furniture or data it gathers? The former depreciates over time, the latter gains value. The risk is that underfunded communities might agree to offers from providers and vendors to trade their citizens data in exchange of equipment. It takes a firm decision to ensure the data remains in the ownership of citizens and taxpayers, like it is done in Glasgow or Copenhagen.

This is not a search for the next villain, but an attempt to find possible ways and standards to govern, manage and utilise the gathered information. Judging by the functions street lighting can perform in a connected city, it is a lot of data. Public, as the main stakeholder, if not confident in the way data is operated, will unlikely approve civic initiatives and engage. Standardisation of data, communication technology and protocols may be able to facilitate the deployment and adoption of a smart city ideas.

If we get back to our multi talented street lighting concept: information, captured by sensors, flows into the central operation, but the media and formats are highly heterogeneous. There will be a need for this information to be normalised, occasionally translated, classified, stored, and eventually destroyed. Today vendors propose their own solutions to manage their piece of infrastructure. GE offers a platform it calls LightGrid, InteliLight has its own street light control software, Philips Lighting adds CityTouch, Acquity accompanies their lighting with various packages of their app called Roam.

I am only talking about lighting. Water will have their own, fire control will certainly use a software native to their equipment. All this is reminiscent of a boom of light planning applications in early 2000, when each manufacture developed their own stuff, and engineers and consultants would have to learn the intricacies of each package. Then Dialux and Relux came along and got everyone from misery. Thinking more widely: AutoCAD has become an ubiquitous standard for engineering community, and its evolution of Revvit that permitted an HVAC guy and a lighting guy work together in one environment independently from each other. “It is still not easy, says Murray Reynolds, CAD Manager of JWL, a large Australian contractor firm in Dubai, and it feels like you have just changed from a Cessna cockpit to Airbus 380.” Although the result is one engineering grid incorporating all vital systems. Similar approach from silos to homogeneous management of data is the future. Presently international standardisation bodies (CEN, CENEC, ETSI, ISO, IEC) are working on standards of interoperability, machine to machine communication, data security and protocols and even trying to unify terminology.

This foundation shall give confidence to city managers in the technical specification, processes and overall strategy of smart city services and equipment. As a consequence, standardised approach to processing and storing the data, shall become the very benefit for a community, that smart city is designed to achieve.

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architecture, 照明, design, effects, friends, interview, lighting

Calling of Light

Michel Zayat

We met with Michel Zayat, a prominent architect and artist, in a cosy art nouveau interior of Cafe Belge in DIFC to talk about architecture and light. Michel lives and works in Dubai, UAE, has an exciting history in his home Damascus, Syria. There together with his wife and a friend of his life, Salma, they run a famous designer store Yabe and Yamo. He taught arts and architecture at Damascus University, worked in Rome, Italy. Geography of Zayat’s projects is as vast as the Middle East: from UAE to Jordan, and to Saudi Arabia, and spread onto Algeria, North Africa. Michel’s father, Elias Zayat, is one of the most famous Syrian artists, and our conversation veers to paintings.

Nikita Che: “Is there a parallel between a light on a canvas, and in the panes of a building?”

Michel Zayat: “A painting emits light. Masterfully schemed onto the canvas, it pours out and captures the observer. He is caught! He is inside the plot. Remember Caravaggio ‘Calling of St. Matthew?’ No visible source of light, yet it penetrates the room and spills beyond the canvas. A candle, a shade on a protagonist’s face, a window, all play their role in shining the light from the painting.

Calling of St. Mathew, Caravaggio

Calling of St. Mathew, Caravaggio

“These elaborate techniques may as well be used in 3D spaces. Habitually we are all about lighting fixtures when we talk about light in architecture. Though arsenal of an architect is as wide as an artist’s. Colour, daylight, geometry and orientation of the room, shadows, you name it! How to get maximum light in a classroom, and decrease heat and glare? Locate it in the North of a building. “It is a pity that many architects and their clients have lost the sense of a daylight. We forgot how to make use of it, and all we do is fighting it.”

NC: “Any good examples?”

MZ: “Index Tower in Dubai is probably one of the few.”

NC: “What makes good artificial light?”

MZ: “Imagine a castle. Its dungeon would be lit with torches fixed on the walls of a passage. Scars dimmed light, barely enough for a poor prisoner to find his surroundings. Now fly up high to the tower where a beautiful princess reads romances, an elaborate chandelier with hundreds of candles lights her pages. Light follows the function of a room, and often creates this very function. Few of us now live in castles, but can easily turn their living room in a disco. A good architect, conscious about lighting matters would always give a client an option to select between layers of light.”

NC: “What is the role of a luminaire in this?”

MZ: “The choice is always dictated by client’s experience, his background, knowledge, vision. Unfortunately often it becomes shopping for clothes, and individual taste comes on the foreground. Like one is choosing a shirt.”

NC: “Can a lighting designer help?”

MZ: “I have never properly worked with a lighting designer. The nature of your projects defines the necessity to employ a designer. A hospital needs lighting designer, a school, a museum does. Hotel lobbies, restaurants are spaces where architects intuition sets the light. Occasionally lighting suppliers come into the picture and offer their scheme. I would not call it a good thing at all. A supplier would bring commercial note into the selection.”

NC: “Have you designed your own luminaires?”

MZ: “I have! Creating a lighting fixture is a sculpture for me. Light then becomes a material, like steel, marble, mother pearl. One object is especially dear for me — Corn. It is from my childhood, when street merchants used to sell corn from an immense wide halleh dara, a shallow pot. Made of thick copper, and sanded and fumed from inside to rid off toxic corrosion, the pot was always heated by fire and kept the water hot. It took one large ball of copper and a patient craftsman with a hammer to make such a flat large object.

Zayat's Corn at Yabe and Yamo, Damascus

Zayat’s Corn at Yabe and Yamo, Damascus

“My Corns were not that thick and we painted them pink, white and black from inside. The idea was to bring light in memories. One day you will see them in Dubai.”

NC: “Which materials do you use?”

MZ: “My favorite trinity: wood, metal and plastic. Plastic is a modern boisterous antagonist of the former two. They have been around for centuries, and then came plastic and disrupted.”

NC: “What is the light source you used in your luminaires?”

MZ: “I love that simple bulb in the middle of the a fixture. It becomes a focal point. That bulb and a socket base, a machine that transforms the power of electricity into light. The bulb is a simple and genius invention.”

“A candle lights a room, a bulb lights a room, everything extra is non essential. Nothing could replace an incandescent lamp, and it is such a shame it is banned now. I ask myself: a generation that would grow without the bulb, which symbol would they use when a bright idea strikes them!?” (laughs)

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