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Lighting up the Magic Box

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The importance of good light is incontestable.

In order to achieve optimal lighting conditions throughout the new BLF headquarter, BLF, NGA and Snohetta have teamed up with lighting consultant Bartenbach early on in the design process.

Workshop with Bartenbach
Workshop with Bartenbach
Workshop with Bartenbach

In the process, 3 main objectives have been defined:

  • Lighting conditions in the workspaces
  • Light as wayfinding
  • Night lighting: The building’s contribution to the Beirut skyline at night

Lighting conditions in the workspaces

The general shaping of the building, with a 55% stone shell/crust and a glass curtainwall in the cut-outs, makes for self-shading of the large glass curtainwalls by the volume itself.

Workshop with Bartenbach

This gives a lot of desired indirect light.

Glass on the outer perimeter is recessed to avoid direct exposure. Both the exterior and interior window sills are fairly deep. They are both chamfered to optimize the reflected light into the deep interiors and enhance the oblique views out of the building. All these chamferings have been tweaked parametrically according to light, sun exposure, heat gain and view. This produces secondary gradients in the stone of the façade.

Here reside two challenges: To maintain a comfortable ambient light on one hand, whereas, on the other, the work environment is predominantly screen based.; The goal becomes to avoid glare on the screens and avoid that windows, and thus view, be closed off with blinds.

Entrance night time, event in auditorium and closed branch, Photo credit:

Light as wayfinding

Throughout the building, light plays an important role in the wayfinding and distribution of program within each floor. From the basement and up the design of the artificial lighting, is a compliment to the natural lighting. In the basement spaces that inherently have no natural daylight, artificial lighting plays an important role for the sense of comfort and security.

In addition, light plays an important role in wayfinding and guiding users into, and throughout the building.

Light is used as a guiding element to the public auditorium in case of a night event. For the visitors and by passers, light makes it obvious that something is going on, and thus leads their way.

Entrance daytime, Photo credit:
Entrance nighttime, Branch is open, Photo credit:
Entrance night time, event in auditorium and closed branch, Photo credit:

Night lighting

In day time, the building has a sense of monolithicity with a degree of uniformity to it.

This impression is maintained at night by having the primary night light come from the atrium within giving the building a lantern-like quality.

In addition, the individual apertures in the façade have individual lights with individual controls, which gives the BLF headquarters the ability to turn the facades into low resolution screens, changing the appearance in a subtle way, and communicating various messages.

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  • ED

    So eager to see it finally built! Hope it won’t take too long 😉

    December 12, 2018