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044


DETAILS


Above and top left The multifaceted design of the Federation Square buildings in Melbourne is echoed inside by polygonal ceiling structure. Left Illumination of Will Alsop’s design for Gao Yang, Shanghai Cruise Terminal.


optimal compromise. Thus the quality of lighting design is highly dependent on the lead designer – it involves their world view, beliefs and conscience.”


It is this, says Ghose, that sets lighting design apart from other technical disci- plines where decisions can be validated by a rational evaluation alone. Unfortunately the distinction is still not generally understood, with clients often conflating quality with quantity.


“I find it hilarious that the client brief for even the most experiential spaces - ho- tel guest rooms - will often demand an outcome measured in lux,” says Ghose. “It completely misses the point - try defining a good steak by weight. It is understandable that empirical measures are quoted as it makes experts of bureaucrats and ama- teurs. I have encountered individuals walk- ing around site with an illuminance meter in hand pontificating that the design does not meet requirement. This was based on a 15% variation in measured levels!” Ghose has many such examples: a client who questioned the use of 3000K instead of 4000K because, it transpired, they assumed the ‘higher number’ made it a better op- tion; or the Mayor of Sydney’s decree that the street lighting in the city’s CBD should be 30% brighter than the highest vehicular road lighting category in the Australian standard – a decision that has resulted in “excessive lighting hardware, glare, and overall an unpleasant night-time experi- ence.” A key part of the problem, he says, is a general misunderstanding of how perception


works. “Most people imagine the eye as a camera, where the lens creates an image on the retina similar to photographic film. This creates a belief that the eye responds to ‘quantity’ of light, where more light results in a better image. However, this has now been proved to be incorrect. The visual system is tuned to detect ‘contrast’ or variation in light levels; we are acutely sensitive to transitions from highlights to shadows. It is these changes that inform our visual system about our environment. A pleasing environment is determined by the range and extent of these gradients, and we as designers need to be conscious of this.” For Ghose, however, the rewards of lighting design far outweigh its frustrations. “The opportunity to work with creative teams and act as the glue that cements all the different bits of craft is a wonderful experi- ence,” he says. “The constant development of technological innovation allows an ever expanding range of creative solutions; there are few disciplines where one is learning ev- ery day and utilising that knowledge almost immediately in real-life situations.” It’s an enthusiastic endorsement for his chosen profession – and perhaps the Fates that nudged him towards it. But luck, one suspects, has only been a bit part player in his success. What advice can he pass on to budding lighting designers entering the in- dustry, I ask? His response could almost be a credo for life in general, and perhaps for DJ Ghose it is just that: “Keep your eyes open, watch the detail and follow your heart,” he says. www.ldp.net


HIGHLIGHTS


Projects that you would like to change: The exterior lighting of the Sydney Opera House – as a world icon it deserves better!


Projects you admire:


The twin towers of Kuala Lumpur. Projects you dislike:


Buildings with facades lit using indiscriminate coloured lighting. Projects with unfriendly control systems.


Lighting Hero:


I am still looking! My hero will be technically sound, creatively innovative and totally unpredictable.


Notable projects:


Federation Square, Melbourne (LAB Architecture); Sydney Opera House exteriors (JPW); Jal Mahal, Jaipur (a huge team of great designers); Canberra Airport (GMB Architects); Clarke Quay, Singapore (Alsop and SPARCH); Shanghai International Cruise Terminal (Alsop and SPARCH); Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (Philip Cox); Al Bustan Palace Hotel, Muscat (Crone Partners).


Most memorable project:


Lighting Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi for the Aga Khan Foundation Award presentation. It was an incredible experience handcrafting the lighting for the world Heritage monument using easily available rental equipment. Due to lack of temporary power, nothing could be tested beforehand, and on the night before the event, it went all foggy making testing impossible! The first time we saw the outcome was during the event - nail-biting stuff.


Current projects:


I am currently working on over 15 projects, but notably: the redevelopment of the Adelaide Convention Centre (Woods Bagot); Solis Hotel in Doha (King Roselli and P&T with HBA); Brunei Museum of Islamic History (Pei Partnership); Falcon Towers, Bangalore (RSP Architects) Lalu Hotel Mixed use, Nanjing (SCDA); Shimao Shen Ken Intercontinental Hotel (Atkins).


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