Lighting is a powerful and versatile design tool that can be used in many different ways. In addition to being a functional necessity providing light for practical purposes, lighting can be used to create zones and points of focus, to manipulate dimensions of a space, to draw attention, to add a decorative element, to tell a story, to add to the experience of a room or providing a dramatic effect through the play of light and shadow.

Light is the material of architecture through which we can best appreciate the nature of space, surface, colours and objects. Perhaps textures are felt as much through the skin as through the eyes.

In art galleries the lighting has a unique set of priorities, those of conservation and effective display. In many ways there is a conflict here as there is a necessity to restrain lighting levels to stop deterioration, whilst it is required to have sufficient light of a high quality to provide optimum viewing levels.

Louis Kahns museums achieved an almost mythical status and developed a new interpretation of the fluid interior. Kahn re-established the sense of distinctive galleries while maintaining freedom of circulation and options for recurrent reconfiguration according to the exhibitions needs. An equally important contribution was Kahns return to the understanding of the gifts and hazards that go hand in hand with natural illumination. Kahn explored the relationship between daylight and artificial light, in the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth (1966-72) the vaults are perforated at the top to let the changing qualities of Texas light enliven the atmosphere without endangering the works, which are illuminated by electric light. Thus Kahn bought the idea of mixing natural and artificial illumination together. This had a big impact on James Stirling, architect on both the Clore Gallery extension at the Tate Britain and the Tate Liverpool.

Urban regeneration is an important factor in attempting to enhance a cities image. Cities now strive to market themselves as attractive places to live or visit. The idea that the establishment of a museum might do something for the surrounding area can be traced back to 1987, when the Tate Gallery (then the National Gallery of British art) opened. Today, there are now three additional Tate galleries located around the UK. As well as the Tate Britain, there is now the Tate Modern, both located in London, the third in the North-West of England, Liverpool, and the fourth in the small Cornish town of St Ives. All the Tates are built over sites that have previously had radically different purposes a prison, dock warehouse, local gasworks and a power station, far from where you would typically find a cultural establishment. Each has been key to the regeneration to its area or town.

Two of the galleries (Tate Britain and Tate St Ives) occupy purpose built buildings and the other two (Tate Modern and Tate Liverpool) occupy renovated buildings. This plays a crucial part in the lighting of the art galleries.

The Tate Britain is the most polymorphous of all the Tate buildings and it reveals a succession of attitudes and style. Walking around the building it feels like travelling through time; proving that the building is subject to ongoing change.

The Tate Britain opened in 1897, before electric lighting was used on mass like it is today. The gallery has since undergone seven major extensions. Lighting was crucial in the design for the first Tate. The architect Sidney R. J. Smith stated Mr. Tate instructed me to spare no trouble in procuring a design which should have the best lit galleries obtainable. The style of the gallery is without a doubt classical; refined mouldings with Greek feeling and ornament.

When the Tate Britain first opened visitors had to leave the Gallery at 4 o'clock or earlier in the winter months and when the weather was foggy, because there was not enough light to view the art work or for the attendants to sufficiently guard it. Despite being wired for electric lighting in the building this was not introduced at the time, as electric light was a relatively new means of lighting in the 1880s, however there were fears it would prove to be a fire hazard and so the only light was that from the windows and skylights. Artificial lighting was introduced into the basement and storage areas in 1903 and the extensions of 1910 and 1926 included electric lighting in their designs but the rest of the galleries remained dark. It was believed that works of art should only be viewed in natural daylight hence there was a delay in the introduction of electric lighting throughout the rest of the gallery. In 1911, a new keeper was introduced to the gallery; Charles Aitken arrived at the Tate after previously working at the Whitechapel Gallery, which had electric lighting. Aitken believed that the Tate Gallery was more popular than the National Gallery, and it should meet the needs of its visitors by remaining open longer into the evening and to do so introduce artificial lighting into the galleries. However, it was not until the late 1920s that a commission was set up to look into the restricted opening hours of national museums. It concluded that the National Gallery and Tate Gallery should introduce electrical lighting as a matter of priority. Electric lighting was finally introduced throughout the Tate in 1935, enabling the Gallery to stay open until 5 pm whatever the weather.

Within two years of being open, the popularity of the Tate meant it needed larger quarters. Smith was appointed architect again to design an additional eight picture galleries. Smith replicated the lighting and proportions of his earlier galleries. Springing from the cove that curves upwards from the walls are elliptical iron beams, which support slanting skylights, directing light onto the walls. The beams meet in a dropped soffit, containing the electrical wiring, which blocks sunlight reaching the centre of the room, that prevents visitors seeing themselves reflected in the glass that is there to protect the paintings.

The Third extensions were the Duveen extensions (1910-1939) which houses the Turner collection and was undertaken by the architect W. H. Romaine-Walker. The initial room of the new wing in contrast to the earlier galleries exceeded in height and length. Before the ceilings had a very complex design, in this new wing the vaults are now fully semicircular and run continuously from one side to the other, with curved glass top-lights. At this point the gallery was closed between 1917 to 1921 due to the war. In 1926 and additional 4 galleries were added to the Turner wing and followed the same scheme, although the ceilings in the galleries were given a new treatment; a deep cove above the cornice leads to a stilted profile where the glazed openings act like clerestories, felt to be an advance on ordinary sky lights. A sculpture hall was added in 1937 and was only open for two years before war broke out and the collection was removed to safety away from the capital.

The requirements for the fifth extension were very specific: an expanse top lit and unbroken by supporting columns or walls, of more than 18000 square feet of exhibition space on the same level as the existing galleries that would allow integration with them. Completion of the extension had many a delay due to the fact there were problems with blinds and natural lighting which meant that works on paper could not be displayed. A complex method of artificial lighting was devised. Whereby building and task lighting were combined, consisting of fluorescent lamps for ambient illumination and also tungsten spots directed at the works of art.

Stirling and Wilford first investigated the principle of reflecting indirect sunlight in the Sackler Gallery, which just predates the Clore extension at Tate Britain. At the Sackler Gallery, the plan was to install reflective louvres to balance the spread of light throughout the gallery, but the changing effects of morning and afternoon daylight meant the louvres were omitted.

At the Clore Gallery, the need to protect fragile paintings from the effects of direct or intense light is of prime importance. The Clores environmental engineer developed and refined the Sacklers basic lighting by adding a computer-control system to produce a day lighting exhibition, which at the time was the most advanced in the world. Each Gallery has a comprehensive monitoring network that registers humidity, temperature and illuminance levels through ceiling and walls censors. With this system it is possible to log light levels in the galleries and can calculate the exposure to sunlight on the paintings. The same equipment also controls the switching to artificial illumination and also the progressive movement of the sun screening louvres.

The Tates brief allows daylight levels in the galleries to vary within an agreed band from a minimum of 100 lux to a maximum of 600 lux depending on external conditions. On dull days the louvres adjust automatically to direct light into the rooms and supplementary artificial lighting comes on progressively as light levels fall outside.

The seventh extensions aim was to shape the future from the past. In 1987 Colquhoun and Miller were appointed to refashion the main building in order to serve new purposes. Smiths internal ceiling structure was altered to make it less cluttered and distracting. Electric lights have been integrated into the soffit. Millers design illustrates the technical advancements that have taken place over the past one hundred years. In comparison with the fifth extension and the Clore, the environmental provisions have become less visually intrusive and more effective. In all three cases computers are used to regulate light at different times of day and seasons of the year.

Miller has integrated the devices that control both the natural and artificial illumination into a sleek conduit that circumnavigates the walls. Overhead, fluorescent lights, internal black out blinds, skylights shielded by exterior blinds under the pitched glass roof perform to create a variety of light conditions. The balances between new ends and traditional means have been restored.

Most galleries and museums dominate their surroundings; however the Tate Liverpool is modestly located within a vast riverside complex. A new museum trend arouse in 1981 the use of industrial buildings for the use of exhibiting art. Warehouses are well suited to the renovation for arts activities. The need for top lighting was no longer a problem as many works made from the early twentieth century on wards are at home in an artificially lit environment. In other respects there are many environmental disadvantages. On sunny days light can reflect off the Mersey onto the facade and penetrate into the interiors through windows cut into the walls, the control of side light was therefore necessary in the brief. The guiding principles of this conversion were only make alterations where necessary.

Servicing the gallery spaces appeared to be particularly problematic. The solution was to rely on one continuous ventilation duct and lighting unit. These units are suspended in the centre of each column bay, where the ceiling height is the greatest. They provide virtually all the gallery services; linear air grilles, up lighters, asymmetrical down lighters, a 240v power track, a 12v track for low voltage lamps, public address system, smoke detectors, fire alarms, data logging cabling and infra-red lighting control.

The gallery lighting is mainly all artificial and primarily indirect, reflected off the white painted vaults from fluorescent up lighters. Multi directional down lighters are able to pick out any partition or specific piece on the floor. Downwardly inclined luminaires on the sides of the units can illuminate the galleries to a much higher degree when requires.

Throughout the gallery Stirling uses a theme he started at the Clore. Allowing glimpses to the outside world through selected existing windows. At the southern end of the building the walls have been cut out and turned into window seats allowing stunning views across the liver and Cunard buildings.

When Barbara Hepworth died (date) much of the work of St Ives artists was in the collection of the Tate gallery, London, Where for many years it had been stored in the basement. But thanks to the success of James Stirlings Tate Liverpool, the idea of Tate St Ives was projected into the spotlight. The building was design by Eldred Evans and David Shalev, who have both lived in St Ives for many years: The art, the building, the townscape and the landscape form part of one experience. The importance of the artists community is clear in the design of the building; the gallery is comprised of a number of studio-like day lit rooms spread out over four floors.

The Tate St Ives is unlike the other galleries as there is a substantial use of natural light. One enters the building via a small amphitheatrically space, which once inside forms the sparse panoramic window that looks out to the Atlantic on floor two. The building provides a route for the public, one that takes you through five rooms of differing scale, proportion and light, these rooms are sparse in detail and are softly lit, allowing all attention to be on the works of art. These rooms surround a secret courtyard, which is only revealed at the end of ones journey around the gallery. The galleries are described as following the white cube model that you can find in most modern art galleries but have an element of unexpectedness due to the varying sizes and lighting used. The sculpture room is the largest space and brightly lit due to the large window hugging the loggia, it overlooks the sea and provides an insight into the artists inspiration, and visitors can turn from works on display, to the panorama of sand, sea and sky, framed by the huge curving window. Some might say that the architecture and the views sometimes overwhelm the art. The pottery cabinets in gallery two (that overlooks the sculpture room) is lit both artificially and naturally from concealed windows high above.

Evans and Shalev have used the varying use of unique light and the drama from the positioning of the building. The services of the building were designed to be integrated into the architecture as well as being efficient and economical. Because of the nature of an art gallery, and the fact the lighting needs to be controlled to protect whilst maintaining optimum viewing levels and the fact that in St Ives daytime light levels vary a lot throughout the day, month, season, the lighting in the gallery has to be controlled. This is done so through the use of glass incorporating ultra violet filters and specifically designed fluorescent lights and blinds.


In 1992 a press conference was held to announce the plans to create a new art gallery by the millennium; this will be the Tate Modern. Giles Gilbert Scotts Bankside PowerStation was chosen as the premises for this new gallery and an international competition was launched to select an architect. There were 148 applicants in the initial stages of the competition. Six Architects were chosen as finalists they are: David Chipperfield (UK), Herzog and de Meuron (Switzerland), Rafeal Moneo (Spain), Office for metropolitan architecture Rem Koolhaas (The Netherlands), Renzo Piano (Italy) and Tadao Ando (Japan).

During the competition, Herzog and de Meurons believed that the building should have a huge body of light hovering above the heavy brick structure. This body of light would pour daylight into the rooms on the top floor and at night, artificial illumination will project into the dark London sky.

The conspicuously horizontal shape of the light beam forms a distinctive equipoise to the vertical thrust of the brick tower

Giles Gilbert Scott designed Bankside power station as a counterpoint to St. Pauls Cathedral just across the river. Scott had the intention of explicitly responding to Christopher Wrens building, this idea has now been accentuated and updated by the light beam. Like the Cathedral, Bankside has now become a public area of interest accessible to all the people in the city.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the industrial revolution took place, and marked a major turning point in human history; almost every aspect of daily life has been affected. Many buildings like the Bankside power station were being built to cope with the industrial demand that quickly took place. (Not sure if needed)

In the twentieth century, architectural evangelists often spoke of cathedrals of industry (expand). The grand scale of the turbine hall and its diffuse contained light is actually really cathedral like, it is as close to a spiritual experience as one might find in todays secular world. Natural light flirters down from a broad skylight that runs the whole length of the Turbine Hall (155m) and glazed boxes project from the former boiler house. The Turbine hall has its own internal facades dominated by the grid of the steel frame, in filled with opaque and transparent planes. The bay windows look like floating bodies of light or vitrines shielding areas where visitors may step out of the flow, functioning like road side lay-bys and offering a service of repose. These elongated light boxes offer an interior view of the gallery block and the exhibition activities. They also act as architectural features that break up the grand steel supports of the facade and generate an optical instability. The monumentality of the industrial architecture is toned down by these bay windows. At intervals clear glass interrupts the translucent planes to allow views into the turbine hall, much like the rotunda at the Tate Britain, from which it was once possible to view fellow visitors below. Those entering the turbine hall entrance may also participate in the exchange of glances, as the radiance of the light boxes draws the newcomers eyes upwards.

The north entrance of the Tate Modern is a space that is more than simply a thoroughfare. The ceiling stretches out between two important architectural elements of the building; the brick tower and the Turbine Hall. Like the bay windows in the turbine hall and the light beam on the roof, the glass shaft of the escalator is a body of light that suffuses floor and ceiling. The stairway connects all seven storeys, functionally complements the other two vertical transport systems; the lifts and the escalators. However it has a completely different role. The handrail ingeniously incorporates lighting, yet another reference to this persuasive theme of light as a basic material incorporated into the fabric, one that functions both virtually and actually.

There are three floors of exhibition space. All the spaces are at least five metres high and some are significantly higher; the top lit suites on the fifth floor and the double height room on the third floor, which is 12 metres tall due to the cathedral window in Scotts Brick shell. This provides a room with dramatic dimensions that excites the experience for visitors and also offers an unprecedented potential for different installations of art. In the galleries walls can be added or removed at certain places allowing dimensions and scale to be tailored to the needs of the current exhibition.

Lighting is an important factor in the perception of art. Slightly different in every room it alternates between daylight, artificial illumination and a mixture of both. The unobtrusiveness of the lighting is very striking. Usually museums that use top lighting, typically consist of complicated and visible superstructure considered necessary to tame the harmful effects of sunlight. Herzog and de Meuron devised a way of avoiding the distracting mechanism at the Tate Modern. Light from above, electric or sun is filtered though translucent glass set flush with the walls and ceilings. Potential variations in adjusting the colour and intensity are almost unlimited; all that make this possible is concealed above in the plaster. All that are visible are the light, the space and above all the works of art.

The majority of the galleries are enclosed, however some in some rooms Scotts cathedral windows are left unobscured admit daylight from the side to transform the ambience of the space. They also frame glimpses up, down and across the Thames. The natural illumination reveals the seasons of the year and the daily weather: sunshine, passing cloud, or rain. The layout of the floors has been designed to establish a direct link between the cathedral windows and the galleries in order to provide a self evident, direct link between interior and exterior. In the rooms where the light comes in laterally through the wall height windows, visitors can look out and find their bearings in relation to the building.

Day lit exhibition rooms are no longer the sine qua non they use to be, since natural light has ceased to be such a major factor in the making and viewing of contemporary art

The galleries on floor five lie above Scotts cathedral windows, so daylight falls from above via clerestory windows within the light beam. Conservation and the needs for individual works of art call for precise light control. For this reason the glazing in the clerestory must be translucent to prevent direct sunlight and shadows, but without reducing the intensity or the colour of daylight. There are two layers of glass with two sets of blinds installed between them; one to adjust the intensity of the light, the other to darken the galleries, The clerestory also provides artificial illumination, which is designed to duplicate the colouring of daylight.

The metaphor of light pervades the structure and unites the old and new

Please be aware that the free essay that you were just reading was not written by us. This essay, and all of the others available to view on the website, were provided to us by students in exchange for services that we offer. This relationship helps our students to get an even better deal while also contributing to the biggest free essay resource in the UK!