An abstract study of light in architectural design

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Light is, just as space is. Neither can be created. Both are omnipresent Light and space need not be the heart of an architecture, but they are its soul.

Space exists, light exists. Light exists to penetrate space. Light sails through space effortlessly, indifferently illuminating its course and leaving generational light in its wake. Space offers no resistance, only to be discovered. Space cannot be illuminated.

A wedge of light traverses the concavity of darkness. The carnet, ice and stone hurled through space; inorganic but alive in its syphilitic journey. This is the extreme contrast: light and dark, matter and void, existence and nonexistence. It is the sun's mass that gives the ice and stone its orbital existence, but it is the sun 's rays that make this ice and stone a carnet. The sun's rays reveal the carnet's spirit, a spirit to which we have given cultural relevance rich in history, religion and art. Construction can be likened to the orbiting ice and stone, architecture to the carnet.

When the metamorphic powers of light are consciously inherent in architectural design, the ordinary becomes the extraordinary, the temporal becomes the sublime, the brick of dirt becomes the brick of gold. Left to its own devices, light may transfigure or it may not, but a significant design opportunity has been left to chance. And it is likely that architecture empty of designed light will be more cerebral and less soulful; architecture that exists because of light not through light.

We perceive that which exists because of the sensory dependency of sight on light Beyond physiology, space and materiality become architectural tools through light Looking should be elevated to seeing, and seeing elevated to understanding. " ... We were born to light. The seasons are felt through light. We only know the world as it is evoked by light, and from this comes the thought that material is spent light. .. " Louis Kahn

Light is as much a building material as are wood, stone and mortar. It is a free but discriminating material: available to all, elusive to many, controlled by few. And light is not captured, but impeded. Through its penetrating, permeating and perpetual nature, light reveals the relationships between form and space.