Architectural Facades are what the eyes of the public see first, and when those eyes look, they need to see something good, for people tend to judge a book by its cover. Architects go to great lengths to design attractive and memorable facades that reflect the spirit and the function of the building. They mix and match various materials, introduce colors, play with shade and shadow, solid and void, and the list of valid options go on. One more approach that has been on the rise recently is introducing lighting elements to the façade, and most specifically: LED lighting
What is LED Lighting?
LEDs, or Light-Emitting Diodes, are tiny semiconductors that emit light when an electric current pass through them. The diodes are made of two thin layers of semi-conducting materials, such as gallium arsenide or gallium phosphide. Electrons move from one layer to another, resulting in the emission of light.
Why is LED Lighting so popular?
- LEDs do not heat up like other like lighting types; e.g. fluorescent and incandescent lights.
- They do not have filaments that burnout so they can last as long as 50,000 hours, whereas other lighting types only last for hundreds of hours.
- They are more efficient than other lighting types, since they convert almost 95% of the electricity into light, while other types convert only 5% to light.
- Moreover, they emit the light in a certain direction, and not in all directions like incandescent and fluorescent light. So, little goes to waste.
- LEDs are very tiny, and that makes them useful for a wide range of applications.
- They may be initially expensive because of their semiconductor material; however, their long lifespan makes them the more economic choice in long-term.
- Due to their efficiency and long life spans, LEDs save energy up to 80%, and that makes them, furthermore, a sustainable choice.
- Color-changing LEDs have multiple various applications in architecture, urban, and interior designs as well as electronics; e.g. LED backlighting for HDMI TV screens.
4 Architectural applications of LED Lighting
Here are 6 buildings whose designers mastered the game of light. They used LED lighting to its full potential in order to impress the passers-by with their eye-popping facades.
1. Chungha Building in Seoul – MVRDV
The Dutch firm revamped this 27-year-old building in the South Korean capital four years ago. They added an extra level and gave it this dynamic outlook, but that’s not all of it. The LED-framed storefronts, sealed with fritted glass, transform the building’s appearance at night.
2. National Aquatics Center in Beijing – PTW Architects
Known as the “Watercube”, this aquatic center was a primary attraction during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. It is remarkable for its Weaire-Phelan structured envelope, composed of a steel frame and ETFE cushions. However, the structure becomes remarkably worthy of its name when the LED lights are in effect.
3. Greenpix Media Wall in Beijing – Simone Giostra & Partners
Not far away from the Watercube lies the Xicui entertainment complex in Beijing, China. The center’s front façade is covered by a massive LED screen, known as the media wall. The wall was installed on the occasion of the 2008 Olympics to display shows by worldwide artists. Photovoltaic cells, integrated into the façade’s curtain wall, operate this massive advertising screen.
4. Mood Ring House in Fayetteville – SILO AR + D
This house in North Carolina was designed with site and price limitations in mind. The architects used modest “off-the-shelf” materials like fiber-cement panels and polycarbonate, to keep down the costs. On the other hands, they made an effort in giving the building’s overall subtle look something catchy. They concealed LEDs within the house’s soffits to distinctly light the house at night with a range of colors and intensities which the inhabitants can control via smartphones.