The Ultimate Guide to Architectural Facade Lighting Design

Architectural facades come in various types. For each type, it’s essential to use the appropriate lighting method to enhance the building’s aesthetic appeal at night.

This article will clarify the lighting design for different types of facades. As a manufacturer of outdoor lighting fixtures for over a decade, we also share some of our project experiences for better understanding.

Lighting Different Types of Facades

Solid Facade Lighting

Floodlighting on solid facades can make them appear flat. As the facade height increases, the brightness diminishes, transitioning into the dark night sky with low contrast. This method highlights the texture of the facade material.

Solid Facade Lighting

Ground-based floodlighting of the facade

Solid Facade Lighting with wall lamps

Up-and-down wall lighting for the solid parts of the facade

Vertically Segmented Facade Lighting

Narrow beam projection enhances the effect of vertically segmented facades. To avoid shadows, lights should be positioned strategically to ensure the beam direction is parallel to the facade.

Vertically Segmented Facade Lighting

Side lighting of segmented columns

Horizontally Segmented Facade Lighting

When lighting horizontally segmented facades, upward ground-based lighting enhances the three-dimensional aspect. Increasing the distance of lights from the facade reduces the long, heavy shadows of protruding parts. Sometimes, linear LED fixtures are used along the horizontal segments to highlight the building’s horizontal divisions.

Horizontally Segmented Facade Lighting

Ground-based floodlighting of the facade

Horizontally Segmented Facade Lighting 2

Linear lighting along horizontal divisions

Relief Facade Lighting

Different lighting intensities or colors can be used for relief facades to enhance their rhythmic appearance. Broad floodlighting, however, reduces the contrast of the relief parts, leading to a “flattened” look.

Relief Facade Lightin

Windowed Facade Lighting

When lighting facades with windows, it’s important to avoid glare for indoor occupants. Highlighting the window frames enhances the dramatic aspect of the building.

Windowed Facade Lighting

Striped Facade Lighting

Internally lit striped facades create a strong contrast between bright interiors and dark facades, emphasizing the building’s presence at night.

Striped Facade Lighting

Transparent Glass Curtain Wall Facade Lighting

During daylight, transparent facades appear dark and reflective of their surroundings. Interior lighting makes the inside visible at night. Uplighting the interior ceiling accentuates its presence, creating a silhouette effect of the facade structure. Linear lighting on each ceiling level further emphasizes the building’s horizontal structure.

The choice of lighting for different facade types is not fixed. It’s crucial for lighting designers to understand the effects and trade-offs of various methods and choose accordingly based on the overall design concept.

ransparent Glass Curtain Wall Facade Lighting

Outdoor Lighting Fixture Insights

As an outdoor lighting fixture manufacturer, we’re eager to share our expertise:

  • Floodlights Typically, these are outdoor lights with a wide beam angle (over 30°), available in 30°, 45°, 60°, 90°, 120° angles. LED floodlights range from 30W to 300-400W, with an efficiency of 140-150lm/w.
  • Spotlights These have a narrower beam angle (less than 30°), often used for tree lighting and beautification. Available angles include 25°, 20°, 15°, 10°, 5°.
  • Outdoor Linear Light Similar to floodlights, these are used for wall washing but provide more uniform lighting. Typically used for heights up to 6-8 meters due to their lower power.
  • Outline Lights Similar to outdoor linear lights but with lower power, used for outlining architectural features at night.

For more information on outdoor lighting fixtures, visit here.

Facade Lighting Case Studies

The facade is the first impression of a building, reflecting its function and unique characteristics. Excellent lighting design can convey detailed architectural features, delivering design concepts and creating resonance, making the building a nighttime landmark and unique scenery.

  • In buildings with solid facades, different lighting intensities for various facets enhance the building’s dimensionality.
Buidling facade lighting project 1
  • In vertically segmented buildings, lighting from below emphasizes the structure’s height and details.
Buidling facade lighting project 2
  • In buildings with curved glass curtain walls, strong white light for each horizontal layer accentuates the building’s horizontal curves, adding stability and flow.
Buidling facade lighting project 3

These case studies illustrate how different lighting approaches can transform a building’s nighttime appearance, making it not just a structure but a piece of art in the urban landscape.

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