Good design criteria for residential outdoor lighting

Iluminación exterior residencial
AlsinaSech Lighting Projects

In residential projects, the outdoor lighting is often planned after the indoor lighting has been designed, despite the two being closely related. The lighting design of a home and its surroundings must always go hand in hand as the light from gardens, paths, terraces and other outdoor spaces amplifies and enriches the indoor areas, facilitating functional and aesthetic continuity between the indoors and outdoors. In this article we will analyse the main outdoor lighting areas in a residential project, the design criteria to be taken into account, and the role played by linear lighting.

Iluminación exterior residencial
AlsinaSech Lighting Projects

Welcome lighting on walkways and at entrances

The lighting on walkways will depend on the type of house and the surrounding terrain but, at the very least, it must ensure people’s safety, guide them and welcome residents and visitors. The routes close to the house or other vertical structures or the landscape can benefit from reflected light from linear fittings recessed in the ground, without requiring direct light. On the other hand, when the paths move away from the building, specific lighting is needed. A discreet and effective solution is to fit linear LEDs in curbs, plinths or other borders of the landscape design.

When flat paths meet stairs, linear lighting offers many elegant and invisible solutions. For example, each tread or riser in a flight of steps can be illuminated, and specific design details built in, depending on each flight’s structure and material. But if integrating light into each step is difficult, we can always fit linear LEDs into the handrails or in continuous plinths.

Once we get to the entrance, it is a good idea to slightly increase the light level near the door. We can do it decoratively or more architecturally, depending on the style of the home. In both cases, linear lighting is always a good way of creating a specific lighting effect. If people arrive by car and not on foot, the linear lighting’s very form directs the gaze effectively and provides interesting opportunities for lighting and marking out parking spaces.

Outdoor recreation and relaxation

Terraces, courtyards, bowers and swimming pools are the outdoor areas of the home where we enjoy social and recreational activities in the open air. Just the sound of these words evokes feelings of relaxation, fun and getting away from our routines and immediately makes us imagine a soft and subtle nocturnal lighting. To achieve this type of atmosphere, indirect light solutions with integrated and hidden LED lines in architectural details are essential and provide a general light base that can be complemented by small accent lights such as candles, beacons or other decorative elements.

Outdoor accent lighting often highlights singular aspects of the architecture, vegetation or landscape, swimming pools or water features. For walls or climbing plants, bathing the wall with light is highly effective, and Lluria’s range of fittings can provide uniform or gradient lighting, according to the needs of the material or the environment. On the other hand, the Wolf range is specifically designed for swimming pools and water features; it combines the performance and quality of Lluria’s IP68-standard products and is submersible.

Iluminacion exterior residencial
Saladie Light Studio

Less is more

Usually, when lighting gardens and outdoor areas, less is more, and the light must be handled subtly and with restraint. At night, our eyes work differently from the day and we need less light to see where we are and to get our bearings. Our vision is more peripheral type, less focused on colour, and more sensitive to shades and chiaroscuro patterns. This means we can work with less wattage and, if necessary, with slightly lower CRIs than those used indoors. It also forces us to carefully control glare and direct vision of light sources and bright spots, since our night vision is adjusted to lower light levels and direct vision of very bright lights is more annoying than it is indoors.

The way to avoid annoying glare is to find solutions in which the light is hidden, shines indirectly or is reflected; we must also take special care to integrate the fittings into the landscaping. Because they are small, Linear LEDs lend themselves to all these applications and Lluria has specially designed profiles that blend in perfectly at every level of detail.

Iluminación exterior residencial
Saladie Light Studio

Limits and points of view

Paradoxically, setting limits on outdoor lighting does not limit our options, quite the opposite. It widens the perception of space and enriches the depth of our visual field. Linear lighting is the perfect ally in these cases, since it can illuminate the boundaries of a property, the perimeter of planters or the edges of a path, perfectly outlining these “limits” and subtly highlighting them, by lighting the horizontal or vertical plane. This is especially interesting when we observe a garden from inside a home, since the play of contrasts allows us to better appreciate the depth of the space, and makes this vista a fundamental part of our inner space.

In conclusion, considering different points of view, both from inside the house and from the entrance or other significant spots in the garden, is an extraordinarily powerful resource when designing the outdoor lighting of a home. It will help us decide which elements to highlight through the light and which solutions to apply for perfect harmony between indoors and outdoors.

Interior and exterior design with dynamic light

Bala Perdida Club. El Equipo Creativo
Bala Perdida Club. El Equipo Creativo

The notion that artificial light can only be switched on or off is now a thing of the past. Dynamic lighting has come to stay, thanks to LED technology and its control systems. But what is dynamic light? Well, its lighting that can vary and change, to better adapt to the room or the needs of the people, through changes in colour temperature, intensity and even chromatic spectrum.

Restaurante Zela. Londres. BMLD.
Zela Restaurant. London. BMLD.

Natural light as a benchmark
Sunlight is dynamic by nature, transforming its composition and distribution throughout the day, with changing speeds and patterns that we as humans find fascinating. In indoor spaces, the distribution of natural light is made up of diffused light and reflected light, which is redistributed on surfaces in a complex way, thanks to refraction and reflection. Fortunately, LED technology now allows us to reproduce and reinterpret the dynamic nature of natural light both indoors and outdoors.

Lluria Xperience reMM
Lluria Xperience. reMM

Static lighting affects the way we perceive our environment, whereas dynamic lighting has the added ability to influence our emotions and sensations. Because it is flexible and customisable, it helps create comfortable, adaptable spaces that are more centred on the human being. Dynamic light also provides more experience- and sensory spaces, whether by amplifying our feelings, as in commercial shops, concerts and events, or by helping us to reconnect with ourselves, in more private and relaxing spaces, where the changes in brightness and tone can generate feelings of wellbeing. When dynamic lighting imitates the natural rhythm of the day and night, it helps to improve our inner biological clocks.

But what are the most common applications of dynamic lighting?

Vivienda particular. Bellaterra. Vié iluminación.
Private house. Bellaterra, Barcelona. Vié iluminación.

Connecting with the outdoors / Imitating daylight
A paradigmatic case of this would be an office, where the quality of natural light is fundamental, according to WELL certification standards. Dynamic lighting can adapt to the tasks and needs of each user, making for better attention and concentration.

For industrial work, dynamic lighting ensures the workers’ state of alertness and concentration, fostering greater safety.

Similarly, in the school setting, it has been proven that students’ performance improves significantly under dynamic lighting. The youngest children particularly benefit from a type of lighting that supports their activity and rest periods.

And in homes that lack natural light, the changing patterns of the lighting help the people to feel more connected with the outside world.

Hotel SB Glow. inSense + Alado Studio

Achieving flexibility in use
In places like the hotel lobbies, event reception halls, multipurpose halls and auditoriums, dynamic lighting can quickly transform and adapt the spaces to the specific type of event or to new uses, and it is unquestionably an advantage when it comes to selling services.

Restaurante Origen. Ainara Arevalo
Restaurante Origen. Ainara Arevalo

Changing the mood or the perception of the space
A simple change in intensity or colour temperature can have an enormous effect on our perception. In the case of entertainment establishments, restaurants and bars, the variations throughout the day, with brighter and more energetic light during the hours of sunlight and a more diffused and warmer light from sunset onward, for example, can have a direct effect on users and their consumption habits.

Museo Egipcio Barcelona
Museo Egipcio Barcelona

Highlighting products, objects and works of art
In commercial and leisure and entertainment sites, shop windows and hospitality centres, yet also in museums, the use of dynamic lighting, whether in white or other colours, enables us to emphasise the objects on display, guide the visitor and communicate brand identity. It also enables us to evoke a given mood or recreate an inspiring environment, reinforcing the story that is being told. In commercial architecture, LED lighting can be truly dynamic, allowing for virtually infinite variations in colour temperature, colour reproduction and saturated colour.

Roca Gallery. Barcelona. inSense
Roca Gallery Barcelona. inSense

Dynamic lighting for outdoors and façades
The advantage of implementing dynamic lighting in urban spaces is its capacity to generate a visually more alluring and sustainable setting. Though it is advisable to avoid bombarding the senses when calling people’s attention, dynamic lighting improves the use of the spaces, and cities are opting for permanent and temporary lighting installations, thanks to their ability to attract visitors.

Lluria Xperience. reMM
Lluria Xperience. reMM

Lighting and music
The design of dynamic lighting is closely related to music, as a sequence of dynamic patterns, rhythms, phrases and events that take place in time. Moreover, light and sound are two materials that when brought together mutually reinforce one another and enhance our sensory experience. As a result, it is hard to find music without dynamic lighting, which is essential at concerts, events and discotheques.

BGA Ganjilk Mall.
Ganjlik Mall. Lighting Design Collective

How to design dynamic lighting
Dynamic lighting requires careful planning to ensure that it satisfies the needs of the people, the space and the intended uses of the space. It is a detailed process that will generate a flexible space envisaged to improve the human experience; a space that can be adapted to new uses and new technologies. The idea is not to play with flashy lighting effects that can ultimately become tiresome, but rather to plan out a lighting that provides real added value to the space and the users.

Hence, the first step is to understand the needs of both the space and the user. Next, the different settings of the space must be defined, documenting and discussing them with the client who will be using the space. The following step is to decide on the most suitable type of dynamic lighting and the control system, as well as defining whether the dynamism will be automatic or whether it will require some sort of user interaction. Finally, the envisaged settings will be viewed, making any necessary adjustments during construction.