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Exterior Lighting Concepts (An Architect’s Guide)

There are two fundamental points to understand about outdoor lighting. The first is that we actually require much less light in outdoor living situations than indoors, which means the overall lighting can generally be more theatrical and less focused on tasks.

The second is that in lower ambient light situations, we actually prefer lower color temperature light (warmer); it’s actually visually more comfortable. Whether it’s our primal draw to the flickering flame of fire or the fact that warm light renders the skin so naturally, our outdoor design objective is to aim for low, warmly toned lighting levels.

In this video we’ll review the general concepts pros think about when considering how to light outdoor spaces. Specific topics covered are:
1) The Lantern Effect – using a structure’s glazed walls to provide ambient light to nearby exterior spaces.
2) Layering of light – ambient, task and accent light tips.
3) Path lighting
4) Color (and) temperature
5) Object or sentinel lighting
6) Fire
7) Wall washing
8) Dynamic range and dimming
9) Uplighting
10) Light pollution

Architects featured in this video:
John Pawson, Messana O’Rourke, Eric Reinholdt | 30X40 Design Workshop, Amantea Architects, Dumican Mosey, The Construction Zone, Shades of Green, Tobin Dougherty, Wagner Hodgson, Abodwell, Perello, William Duff, Link Architecture, Turnquist, Ruhl Walker, Tinmouth Chang, Ziger Snead, Bates Masi

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Please watch: “Over budget. An Architect’s Advice”


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  1. Gabriel Antonioli

    I study architecture in a brazilian federal college. Today I found out about your exceptional videos and I'm watching them like crazy. Your didactic is fenomenal, better than many of my professors. I'm much more inspired in developing my projects. Please keep making videos like these. Thank you so much!

  2. Very clear and straightforward guides .

  3. Just to be a stickler, @ 4:35 you said "Degrees Kelvin", however, by convention it should just be "Kelvin" because it is an absolute temperature scale whereas the Celcius and Fahrenheit temperature scales are relatively defined by the freezing and boiling points of water, namely, 0 °C & 100 °C and 32 °F & 212 °F respectively at sealevel and standard atmospheric pressure.

  4. badoor al- holibi

    Thaaaaaaaanks …. form Saudi Arabia…please can you recommend for us books that a good for interior design

  5. Eric, where do you pull your (great!) images from? Any royalty-free resources you can recommend?

  6. Gonçalo Salgado

    Can you make a video about interior lighting? For example for room, living room, work, etc.. I don't know anything about architecture but I think a few basic tips will go a long way. Just as the 80/20 rule, that 80% of your results come from 20% of key tasks. What are those key lighting principles that I can apply to my home? 🙂

  7. PeterDimitrovArt

    I am watching this with a notepad in front of me, pen in hand, hard at work of taking notes.

  8. i can't belive this channel has only 38 thousand subscribers while reality shows and useless volgers get millions of subscribers

  9. Hi Eric, what type of stone is used in the pond steps? at 3:25? I particularly like this stone.

  10. Michael Levitski

    dude if you ever write a book about outdoor lighting I will buy a copy. quality video.

  11. good videos. one request, please point out the material of which you are talking about.

  12. absolutely amazing videos man! thumbs up from Bangalore!

  13. ABSOLUTELY AWESOME! We are waiting for more and more :)))

  14. Salma Chikhaoui

    How can the architecture student improve his patience and innovation towards his desciplin ? Since it is not easy to stay motivated in such field .

  15. Thomas Leonard

    Big fan here, but I do want to make note of something. Rod cells are light responsive not color responsive. Blue tends to stand out more in darker conditions due to the Purkinje Effect in which red will "fade first" as night progresses, leaving green and blue to stand out more. Nonetheless, great work!

  16. Aayush Agarwal

    and its good to see that someone is making effort for teaching and awareness for architecture ….

  17. Aayush Agarwal

    good work…i like your videos …it's seems you work hard for you videos ….a

  18. Kharly Jeff Castillo

    Thank you, please do more videos like these. I'm learning alot

  19. Love your videos mate. More entertaining and informative. What more could you need?