art, 照明, effects, science

Twilight Gazing


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.

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.

art, effects, lighting

Artists of Light: Kuindzhi

Light fascinates. We reach for a phone, camera, canvas. Whatever the means, it results in awes. Photogenic light is an artist’s aide. The model that grows no older, knows no gender.

Arkhip Kuindzhi. Ukrainian Night. 1876. Oil on canvas. 79 x 162. The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.

Arkhip Kuindzhi. Ukrainian Night.
1876. Oil on canvas. 79 x 162. The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.

Arkhip Kuindzhi, 1842 – 1910, Russian painter, a member of Peredvizhniki movement. Was light a chemistry for him? Perhaps: rumour has it, he had some dealings with Mendeleev.

Arkhip Kuindzhi. Kind of the Isaac Cathedral at Moonlight Night. 1869. Oil on canvas. Smolensk State Museum-reserve, Smolensk, Russia.

Arkhip Kuindzhi.
Kind of the Isaac Cathedral at Moonlight Night.
1869. Oil on canvas. Smolensk State Museum-reserve, Smolensk, Russia.

Look at the water of the Neva river. Today it is so easy: a lens turns reflection into a binary code into instagram post, but recreate such a game from memory during laborious days of rubbing a point of a brush against the canvas?

Arkhip Kuindzhi. Moonlight Night on Dneper. 1880. Oil on paper. 105 x 144. The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Arkhip Kuindzhi. Moonlight Night on Dneper.
1880. Oil on paper. 105 x 144.
The State Russian Museum,
St. Petersburg, Russia.

Moonlight Night on Dneper makes me shiver. I swear. Lost for words… see you next post.

alternative, dubai, energy, friends, renewable

On the use of the Sun

A question that gets asked a lot around here: why solar power is not that spread across the UAE. It seems logical to ask: the Sun is in abundance in the Middle East, and yet this country only plans to diversify its energy sources and get up to 24% of it from clean sources*. Our old friend, one of the brightest people we know and the Sun expert, Anthony Bassil, shed some light on the solar power. He also sketched the schemes for this post.

Solar energy harvested via photovoltaic panels can be classified into two main schemes: off- and on-grid. Off-grid, or stand alone system needs a large battery bank to store the collected energy, charge controllers and inverters to change from direct current to alternative current (AC/DC, and we are not on about ‘Rock or bust‘ here)

Off-grid system on paper

Off-grid system on paper

Such system is bulky, takes a fair bit of space and demands extreme safety measures. Standards require the place where batteries are stored to be properly ventilated. As battery emits hydrogen, every schoolboy knows, it behaves funny when it meets with oxygen (yes, b-o-o-m!) This makes the off-grid solar installation costs go up and lead to longer return on invenstment (ROI) period.

However the costs even for the off-grid system is now shrinking. A decade ago, a user would pay about ten USD per kW, and now — only around five. Yet, on-grid installation offers even higher savings (2.4 USD/kW) and estimated 3-5 years ROI.

An example of a grid-tie system

An example of a grid-tie system

Recent changes in the energy policies in Dubai, allowed investors to look at the on-grid solutions. It is a leaner installation that needs no batteries, and its core advantage is in the ability of a user to sell the unused energy back to the grid. Say, your warehouse consumes a smaller amount of energy during the night, and therefore gives unused electricity back to the network.

A growing number of clients are expressing interest in locating the panels on the roofs of their buildings, both new and retrofit. Why not? We have probably 350 days of uninterrupted sunlight each year. New regulations allowed investors to look differently at this renewable source of energy. Other sources are limited by the climate: moderate winds and waves along the UAE coast would not allow to harvest sufficient amounts of energy. Off-shore wind turbines are possible, but then again you need to transport energy from far away in the sea.

This country is looking forward the having so called solar farms.

Shams means Sun

Shams means Sun

Concentrated solar plants would allow to collect and transform to electricity enormous amounts of sunlight. Thus, Abu Dhabi based Shams 1 launched in 2013 is the largest solar thermal power plant in the Middle East. It is built to generate 100MW of energy. Unlike photovoltaic principle (energy is created due to chemical reaction), solar thermal stations heat water and then convert it to electricity.

Engineers in the Middle East are working on the challenge of dust. It too is in abundance in our desert land. Where a manual labour could be used to rid of the dust on a parking ticket machine, you’d need a more serious machinery on the farm.

We will continue to monitor the Sun power situation. The weather is good for both us, the users, and investors (heard of Google spending 300 M USD on it? The search-masters bough a share in the US SolarCity plant, 377MW).

* State of Energy Report in the UAE 2015

architecture, 照明, design, energy, lighting

Architecture inside out

Centro de innovacion by Elemental

SANTIAGO, CHILE. Alejandro Aravena and his collaborators from Chilean architectural bureau Elemental reduced normal energy consumption of the building three times. Here is how. They had turned it inside out. When conventional structure would have its core inside, Elemental architects thought they should replace glazing with concrete walls, but have glazing directed inwards.

Natural light would still be pouring inside the building through a massive skylight and large openings in the outer core. This reverse solution helped to reduce the energy to fight the heat, but the glaring daylight also yielded.

This innovative idea serves well to the purpose of the building, an Innovation Centre of San Joaquín Cam­pus, Uni­ver­si­dad Católi­ca de Chile. There is always a tad bit of secrecy over any innovation. At first. Then it opens to all. Aravena’s Centre is the same: it opens to those who enter — transparent glazing and partitions facing sun lit atrium.


“We multiplied the meeting spaces throughout the whole height of the building using the triple height recessed windows as elevated squares,” say architects. Vertical circulation serves the spread of knowledge too. Think how much you could know moving up and down and seeing what is going on!

The fact that stuns us is that the Centre uses only 45kW per square meter per year. A normal glass shell — 120kW/m2/year! This  innovation definetely worth spreading to the Middle East.

Sources: image courtesy (exterior), (interior); text references