Architecture Program


Date of this Version

Spring 5-5-2012


Humankind’s fascination and experimentation with light is as old as the built environment itself. Consciously or unconsciously, architecture and light share a distinctive relationship. This has created rich situations in the past and it can create new ones in the future as well. To address the potential of this relationship in a design thesis, one must realize that there is a crucial difference between an objective description of light and what we perceive.

The measure of light can be quantitatively described in luminous flux, radiant energy, or even directionally in relation to time. This way of approaching light produces standard approaches to day-lighting based on design guidelines, energy strategies, and ultimately instrumentalization.

This approach is not worthless, however, it diminishes the full significance of light in design. The heterogeneous building requirements of our age cannot be met by standardized “one-sized-fits all” solutions.

As a critique and compliment to instrumental day-lighting research, which assess the performance only in terms of quantitative illuminance goals and glare-based discomfort, my thesis attempts to re-establish a fuller understanding of day-lighting. To do this, I look to elevate the experience of light in order to disclose understanding of a different nature. In other words, natural light is a dynamic and ephemeral tool for expressing the qualities of architectural space, forms, and materials. This relationship can underpin architectural thinking as a way to connect the significance of light with the making and inhabitation of spaces. In short, the transformative powers of light stand at the threshold of vision and discovery. By looking carefully at the transformative properties of light in design, we may begin to realize the potential of light in both spatial and temporal variability. It supports our daily activities because we as humans evolved in the cyclical swing of day and night throughout the changes seasons and years.

There is also a need for a deeper sensibility for light’s role in design as it relates to understanding people in their totality.

Rather than employing generic and uncritical lighting strategies, we can look at buildings as domains of immaterial energies. To say this differently, by understanding our commodified world driven too frequently by control and optimization, this thesis wonders if the architect can re-animate architecture with a secular-sacred dimension through light.

The secular-sacred is an environment that initiates a profound and sensitized encounter of the self in the world. This is an event of singularity, which surpasses the sphere of the everyday by raising up moments and architecturally framed activities. This is a direct challenge to an instrumentalized architecture that fails to sustain the immaterial and ideal totality of our lives.

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