Light is an invaluable tool for designers, unrivaled in its ability to alter the mood of a room in an instant. It dictates our daily rituals—when we rise, work, and rest. A subtle glow not only adds warmth and dimension to a space, it makes that space functional. But lighting also poses a unique architectural challenge since most fixtures require complex installations, which can absorb ceiling height. Finally, designers have a long-awaited solution.
Apure Architectural Lighting, a company known for its innovative portfolio since opening its doors in 2013, is disrupting the market with its latest collection—the patented MINUS series. For the first time, an LED downlight exists with the capacity to recess in less than one inch (<25mm). It’s nearly imperceptible, giving way to seamless modern spaces awash in light.
The MINUS LED is available in two forms: the MINUS ONE, which has a round finish, the MINUS TWO, which has a square louver designed by PORSCHE DESIGN STUDIO, and the MINUS THREE, a semi-recessed square finish designed specifically for artwork walls. Designers will take comfort in knowing all MINUS LEDs include proprietary precision optics, ensuring light only is delivered where it’s needed in a space.
Apure Architectural Lighting developed the series to create more space, literally. Each recessed light is held in place with a unique installation bracket, and enables architects and designers to work with their ceiling height, which otherwise may have been comprised for other lighting fixtures’ housings. The MINUS and its installation method also help reduce hefty costs often associated with full-fledged lighting installations.
“The MINUS is a unique product in that it requires less than 1 inch of recess depth. This is particularly helpful in new construction applications, where clients generally have to drop ceilings to accommodate recessed lighting,” says Philipp Petzold, VP of Apure Architectural Lighting and son of CEO Uli Petzold. “With the MINUS series, a drop ceiling is required to be no more than 1 inch without compromising performance.” MINUS lights are extremely versatile and can be installed under AC ducts, in showers, marine settings, and in nearly any material including drywall, millwork, stone, and metal ceilings.
LEDs in the series emulate the softness of natural light and reduce glare, partly due to the incorporation of proprietary lenses installed in each fixture, equipping designers with an ideal option for airy, contemporary projects. The reduction of glare is especially welcome in all lighting applications, residential and commercial, as it enables the ceiling to remain out of focus, emphasizing the interior elements and architecture.
The initial idea for the MINUS series partly stemmed from Apure Architectural Lighting’s in-house illumination planning studio, which works closely with clients and teams on each project. Apure Architectural Lighting’s hands-on, intuitive approach enables the company to better understand challenges today’s designers face. “After working on so many projects in which clients had to compromise further by dropping their ceilings to an unsuitable level (or forego recessed lighting all together), we realized the industry needed a new solution,” says Petzold.
Apure Architectural Lighting began developing the MINUS Series in 2016, with the goal of creating a high-performing light fixture that could be recessed in almost any application. In 2019, it’s safe to say: mission accomplished.
The MINUS series is offered with a 2700K, 3000K, or 4000K CCT with a Color Rendering Index of (CRI) 90+. It is fully dimmable, and proprietary microchip technology boasts a lifetime of 50,000 hours (LM80). Lumen output from source is 1140 and 4 fixtures can be powered by a single power supply. The MINUS is ETL listed, CE listed, Insulation Contract (IC) rated, wet-location rated, airtight, and IP66 rated by request.
Standout: Isamu Noguchi-inspired skylights usher natural light into the brownstone’s heart, where generous panels of Italian marble, its veining coordinated via AutoCAD, preside over the kitchen and its stained white-oak floor planks.
Standout: The colors of Rick Amor’s artwork hanging above the built-in banquette and custom table informed firm director Jonathan Richards’s palette for his own kitchen, with painted plaster walls, oak-veneered cabinetry, and a quartzite backsplash.
Standout: In the 520-square-foot apartment, flooring of glossy self-leveling concrete gives the sense of more space, while ample built-ins or “function boxes” in lacquered HDF or cherry veneer actually provide it.
Standout: Dramatic stonework distinguishes the town house, from veined tawny, black, and white Italian and Spanish marble in bathrooms to the kitchen’s Angola granite on the 13-foot-long island and around the ceiling boxes housing ventilation and lighting.
Keep scrolling to view more images of the projects >
Brighten the outlook of building occupants and reduce lighting costs by bringing natural light inside.
By Jody Andres, AIA, LEED AP From the April 2019 Issue
In today’s climate of sustainable design, it’s rare that a newly constructed facility or one being renovated does not include some level of eco-friendly features. Overlooked in the past, daylighting is one of those features and is no longer an afterthought. It could be argued that how to best use natural light should be a primary consideration in the design of any new facility. But why is it so important?
The Physiological Perspective. The bottom line—daylight is good for us. Research has demonstrated the positive effects of exposure to natural light. Daylight has been shown to combat the effects of depression. It can help improve a person’s mood and maintain a calmer disposition. In addition, exposure to daylight is one of the primary ways we can get and maintain healthy vitamin D levels in our bodies.
When we incorporate windows and natural light into facilities, we’re helping fulfill a basic desire for a connection to light and nature. The biophilia hypothesis—introduced by Edward O. Wilson in his book, Biophilia—proposes that humans have a desire to seek out connections with nature and other forms of life. Biophilic design and planning increases access to nature, light, and biodiversity to reduce stress, promote healing, foster creativity, and improve cognitive function.
The Productivity Perspective. In the workplace, daylighting is a critical design element for employers and their facility planners to consider. Not only does daylighting and controlling artificial lights in the workplace save money, but it’s been proven to help create a more comfortable work environment and make employees more productive.
“Daylight and Productivity—A Field Study,” a study conducted by Mariana G. Figuerio, Mark S. Rea, and Anne C. Rea of the Lighting Research Center at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Richard G. Stevens from the University of Connecticut Health Center, Department of Community Medicine, explored the occupancy rates, amount of time subjects spent on work-related tasks, and electric lighting operation in daylit and interior offices. They found that people located in windowed offices spent considerably more time (15%) on work-related tasks compared to employees in interior offices. These results matched their hypothesis that people who work in interior spaces would spend less time in their offices and be less productive than people working in windowed spaces.
When it comes to educational facilities, consider the results of the Heschong Mahone Daylighting Study (conducted by Heschong Mahone Group), which involved more than 21,000 students. Study results presented a significant correlation between learning spaces with natural light and student performance, finding that both reading and math scores improved for students in spaces with abundant daylight. Additionally, there was a 20% faster progression in math and a 26% faster progression in reading.
Meanwhile, school administrators are continually seeking the means to retain the best faculty and staff. Abundant daylight in well-designed work environment is sure to be looked at favorably by current and potential employees.
The Economic Perspective. While there are a bevy of health and production-related reasons to incorporate daylighting, we shouldn’t lose sight of the financial benefits. More natural light means a decreased need for artificial light. This trade-off reduces a building’s power consumption. Additionally, latent (passive solar) heat in the winter decreases the demand on heating systems.
EXAMINING DAYLIGHTING STRATEGIES
Whether in a school, office, or senior care facility, natural light can benefit building occupants by providing a healthier, more interesting, and dynamic environment in which to learn, work, or live. So, what are some of the best strategies to utilize when incorporating daylighting?
In the case of new construction, orientation of the building is critical. Siting the building on an east-west axis, with south- and north-facing windows is a key design strategy. And with technological advances, windows can be altered to control how much daylight will enter the space. When planning areas that will contain display equipment, such as high-definition televisions and whiteboards, the design team should take special care with window placement to control lighting levels and to prevent glare or blinding conditions in the space.
Daylighting and control options that are becoming standard design elements include sun control and shading devices, light shelves, clerestory windows, tubular daylight devices, and translucent skylight systems. In the case of a renovation, the use of natural light can be further enhanced by using window films to contain glare. While timers and motion sensors designed to reduce light levels are not new, the next wave of sensors actually measures daylight levels in a room (or portion of a room) and adjusts accordingly.
Although at first mention it seems counterintuitive, artificial lighting can contribute to a good daylighting strategy. A popular design element is the installation of direct-indirect lighting fixtures. With these, more than half of the light generated can be directed upward, reflecting off of the ceiling and other surfaces. This results in reduced glare, a more uniform ambient light level with fewer “hot” spots, the need for fewer artificial lights, and decreased energy use and costs.
MODELING AND ASSESSMENTS
Energy modeling and computer generated building models can be extremely helpful evaluation tools when determining daylighting strategies. Using these, facility owners and maintenance staff will not only be able to observe how natural light and views will exist in their building, but they’ll get an understanding of how much energy—namely in lighting and cooling—can be saved. Whether new construction or renovation, modeling should be incorporated to inform the design effort and guide decision-making. As early as possible, the project team should evaluate the most appropriate ways to bring daylight and views into a facility and how these will be integrated with artificial lighting and controls. As more design and product options are entered into modeling software, facility planners are able to make informed design decisions.
Another critical element to consider when pursuing daylighting is assessing lighting quality and levels compared to the visual tasks being performed. Not to be overlooked is controlling glare in environments awash in daylight. Building occupants will close blinds and shades if they decide too much daylight is obstructing their view. This not only removes views to the outside, but may also necessitate use of artificial lights.
When using natural light to help achieve lighting levels, the selection of window glass (based on the orientation of each window) is vital. While spaces that are over lit waste energy and money, occupant productivity may be negatively impacted by inadequate or poor quality lighting. As a guide for determining a good lighting level for most offices or educational spaces, daylight balanced with an average of 40 to 50 foot-candles of artificial light capability is ideal. (A common unit of measurement in the lighting industry, foot-candle is roughly defined as the amount of light that actually falls on a specific surface.)
The benefits of daylighting are numerous and should be enjoyed. When planning your next project, discuss potential strategies with your design team to create an environment where occupants can thrive.
Andres is a senior project architect and the K-12 market leader at Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction, Inc. in Appleton, WI. He is a LEED AP, past President of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Wisconsin, and the regional representative to the AIA Strategic Council.
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Best Practices For Automated Shading SystemsThe right balance of daylighting and daylight harvesting strategies can provide health, productivity, and energy saving benefits: Here’s how to get the most out of your facility’s automated shading system.
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Between work deadlines and juggling personal responsibilities, it can be tough for employees to maintain stability in their life. Finding a healthy work-life balance can help improve one’s overall well-being, ultimately making employees more productive and happier in their work environment. Companies that invest in employee support and satisfaction tend to succeed in generating happier workers. A 2015 study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12 percent spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10 percent less productive.
When you think of what’s hot in interior design right now, do your dad’s wingback chairs and grandma’s ornate chandeliers come to mind? Well, maybe they should. A new study by Joybird, a custom furniture company, revealed that Victorian is the interior design style that wins the popularity vote in more U.S. states than any other decor style.
But hold off on a full “Age of Innocence” home makeover. Crown molding and floral wallpaper might reign supreme in 10 states, but that doesn’t mean stuffy Victorian style is on the rise across the country. In fact, trendsetting states such as California and New York actually preferred transitional and contemporary styles, respectively.
“Traditionally, home styles begin on either coast and work toward the center of the country,” says John B. Chadwick Jr., an interior designer in New York City.
The study compared the most-searched interior design terms in each state, based on Google Trends data over the past 12 months.
The states where Victorian style is No. 1 are Nevada, Nebraska, Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware.
Bohemian, the No. 2 style, was the top search term in nine states: Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia, New Hampshire, and New Jersey.
Take a look at the rest of the most searched styles in the chart below.
Contemporary and transitional styles dominate on the coasts
Anyone who wants to stay on the pulse of the next big thing in design has long known to look to New York and California, and the study confirms it.
“The design and fashion industries and other businesses on the East and West coasts help drive the trends,” says Bonnie J. Steves, an interior designer in New York City.
Of particular interest to many design mavens is contemporary style, which has taken root in New York. The style encompasses a range of different trends developed in the latter half of the 20th century, featuring rounded lines and a mix of bold and neutral shades.
“Contemporary style in particular will permeate in coming years,” says Steves. “We live in such a connected, digital society that someone can see something that’s trending in New York and immediately have access to it in Kansas City.”
Contemporary was also the top searched style in Texas. Houston-based architect and interior designer Lauren Rottetsays she has been seeing a lot more homes spotlighting the style being built in the Houston and Dallas areas.
“All the 30-somethings I know are very contemporary or Mid-Century Modern,” she says. “I think the home [reality] shows may be influencing this.” Photo by New Generation Home Improvements – Contemporary kitchens like this one are trending in states such as Texas, New York, and Virginia.
The transitional style favored in California is a more accessible look that melds two different aesthetics: modern and traditional.
“Transitional has some key elements of classic, timeless design but offers modern convenience with simple lines and profiles,” says Eric Tsai, director of marketing for Joybird. “People in California seem to like the mix and match of old and new more than staying within a defined style.”
“California culture is one of constant transitions,” says interior designer Linda Kitson of Summit, NJ. She favors such features as whitewashed oak beams, natural light, and bronze-framed windows.