Light Space

Architectural Design 2016 Thesis Project

Thesis Statement:

Through experimentation and focusing primarily on natural light and the way sunlight changes over time, Light Space investigates how to utilize form and sunlight to alter the perception and the experience of a preexisting site and installation space through the pursuit of unique lighting phenomena in a controlled walled space.


_high quality images may take a while to load. project organized in chronological order, most recent updates on top


Through the course of experimenting with the effect of light on a space, the most difficult aspect was creating the ideas and imagined phenomena in real space. The most successful installations and experiments/models were those that came out through pure experimentation of form and color, without any preconceptions rather than those that were planned out. 

Reframing and refocusing around sunlight instead of electrical lighting/point lighting also helped concentrate the thesis purely on the relationship between the built form, light, and the resulting experience, rather than worrying about controlling the light. Allowing the sun to become the main source of illumination meant the experiments could become purely reactionary to the light coming in through the windows.

Experimentation Process

After setting up the standard dimensions of each “cubicle” within the installation, the standard size became the basis of an iterative process to experiment with the creation of lighting phenomena through the use of scale models. Through this method, and due to the fact that sunlight is scalable due to its parallel nature, these scale experiments helped focus on thedifferent experiences evoked by each of the installations. Putting each of these experiments within the half inch scale model of the room, and looking through the three apetures, one can experience the phenomena as though one is inside.


The first of the two drawings focuses on a more diagrammatic, and programmatic layout of my the installation in room 104. The drawing focuses on communicating on what times during the day it looks best. Each of the three “cubicles” has a span of time where the lighting phenomena is strongest, and the overlay over the sunlight diagram shows exactly these times alongside the line that represents sun travel over the span of the day. Also on the drawing, there are more representational drawings of each of the installations, as well as another diagram along the right side of the page. The vertical line depicts the type of weather during the date labeled. During the two dates one, when the sunlight diagram was printed, and other during the documentation of the room, encompass both the ideal, sunny weather, with unimpeded light, and the other cloudy day, with more diffused light.

Focusing on visitor perception of the installation, as well as depicting the installation itself in the second drawing, it sets up the installation itself, and the partition walls inside the room. The overlay of color then communicates the lighting phenomenon in each of the three spaces. The intersecting lines in the bottom right corner, represent the importance, and slightly overbearing quality of the two 8 feet by 8 feet partition walls in the room. The blue squares on top diagram and plot out points within the remaining space of the room where the installation is best viewed, and how it is intended to be viewed. Each of these points either focus the view to one specific cubicle, or allow the visitor to see more than one installation, thus allowing them to begin to compare phenomena and spaces.


The right installation is more formal in nature, where reveals cut into the plane itself allows light the stream into its own space as both an image, and a shade. The intensity of the illumination of this installation either allows for a very clean appearance of the slots, giving the wall an almost weightless appearance, or fills the slots to the brim with light, casting lines of light into the space in front of it. The way this installation tries to hold back the sunlight behind it creates a lighting phenomena that is more spiritual in nature, and the lack of color causes a more quiet experience within the space.


The middle installation utilizes reflected daylight to create a new lighting experience within its set space. The backsides of each of the bent planes are painted a color, and the sunlight streaming into the window bounces off of this colored plane, resulting in a colored illumination streaming from the gaps within the installation. The shift in daylight, mainly the color of lighting, affects the installation most as the tone of daylight blends with the blur and orange of the two curved pieces, creating a shifted hue of both colors throughout the day. A stronger sunlight pulls the cast/reflected light that appears on the faces of the two planes further, illuminating more of the space.


The left installation focuses on the idea of an illuminated window. The masking of the exterior, and addition of color emphasizes the form itself, and its location both in the corner of the room itself, and its location on an edge of the wall plane. The resulting lighting phenomena is a immersive colored space, where the main emphasis is drawn towards the edge of the room, and the light cast upwards to the ceiling. Changing daylight throughout the day creates an additional shift in color and experience, where the space within the walls as well as the light “window” shift in intensity and color.

Room 104

Moving on with the focus on natural lighting, the next set of experiments are set in a specific site/installation space within 1515 West Mount Royal Avenue (Baltimore, Maryland). The room contains a set of windows divided into three sections by mullions. Through the creation and experimentation with three full scale installations, each experiment will explore the phenomena of lighting utilizing only the light streaming through the windows in the room.

The front facing windows of the space are perfect for analyzing the changing lighting conditions and its effect on lighting phenomena, space, and the experience within it throughout the course of a day. Each of the resulting installations has its own moment during the day when the experience of the lighting within the space is strongest.

Shift: Natural Lighting

The shift to only utilize natural lighting to create various lighting effects came from the conclusion that electrical lighting/projected light from a singular point creates more of an object than a space. The parallel nature of sunight creates a consistant illumination and the interaction between architecture and sunlight, and potentially creates more interesting lighting phenomena that can change throughout the course of the day.

Precedents: James Turrell, Robert Irwin, Tadao Ando, Steven Holl, Luis Barragan, Peter Zumthor

Focus on Architectural Elements

In order to relate the experiments more to the architectural practice, the addition of a focus on how light affects certain aspects of built architecture allowed for a more filtered approach to experimenting by studying architectural elements such as corners, walls, doors, stairs, trimming, floors, ceilings, etc. The goal of these experiments are to utilize light to alter the basic understanding of these elements in ways that could also alter the experience and identification of these architectural elements.

3_13_16 corner_01

corner definition: edge where two planes meet

Starting with the idea that a corner is the intersection between two or more planes, this experiment adds a fourth plane in front of the seam where the planes meet, and illuminates it with various types of projected light in order to either emphasize or diffuse the “cornerness” of the intersection.

0_00_00 various experiments in a preset room using mirrors and reflected light


Through a series of experiments with lighting, reflections, opacity, and projections to find out how to alter the perception (expected reality) of an architectural space, this first set aims to identify lighting conditions that could be made using reflective materials to create a controllable light source.

2_9_16 shift in thesis thinking

Light_Reflectivity_Spaces: Through experimentation, I would like to discover how the use of lighting, reflections, opacity, and projections can alter the perception (expected reality) of an architectural space. I will be focusing on specific architectural elements within space (i.e. doors, wall, corners, windows, floors, columns, alleys, stairs, etc.) to experiment with in order to try to alter one's perception of space.

2_6_16 experiment_one: follow up

I edited the photos taken in the experiment into black and white in order to remove the distraction of color.

1_25_16: experiment_one: small led test
Given the foot and a half of snow outside from winter storm Jonas in Baltimore, I decided to capitalize on the unique outdoor environment to create a very small scale light installation using color changing led's. The areas of research I focused on were:

  • open space: how do points of light define a space
  • how lighting changes with place: Baltimore, snowstorm
  • context: snow, nighttime
  • scale: very small scale
  • artificial lighting

Looking back at the experiment, I do not feel it was as successful as I would have liked in terms of creating space, or developing a spatial language. The ones i feel are more successful are the experiments on the first row, and the first three on the second row.

1_2_16: Lighting can act as an identifier and a place-making tool. Specific qualities of light evoke past memories and experiences as well. Light has always intrigued me and I would like to explore the language of lighting, its nuances, and its relationship to the experience of space throughout my thesis, culminating in an urban intervention in Baltimore. The intervention will first identify an issue within the urban fabric, and attempt to solve it utilizing the formal language of light developed through my experimentation as an experiential and formal gesture. The urban intervention will include an outdoor public gathering space as well as programmed built intervention.

I plan on beginning my thesis with a question and a methodology to realize and identify which qualities of light are attractive to me, and what about these light qualities appeal to me. The method through which I will try to achieve this understanding includes installing various temporary spatial light studies within the urban environment and documenting them in order to develop a language. Initial topics I want to research are about the relationship between lighting and built form as well as its relationship with open space. Also, how lighting changes with place, context, and scale, how lighting changes over time, and how natural and artificial lighting changes the experience of a space