Architectural Lighting Tips

Last modified: 30th Sep 2016

In everyday life, lighting may be rarely noticed unless there is a perceived lack or excess of it. Good lighting that provides the right level of light and comfort, will, therefore, often go unnoticed. However, employed effectively, lighting strongly influences how we perceive the visual world. Not only is it a critical aspect of the built environment for safety and security, but it can also be used to beautify the space and architecture around us.

Effective architectural lighting applications can bring out the best in a range of buildings, showcasing and transforming the visual appearance of structures. From creating focal points to highlighting special features, architectural lighting can add considerable visual impact.

While architectural lighting design incorporates a creative process, it fundamentally involves identifying the aim of the application, then selecting the correct combination of equipment and techniques to satisfy the desired scheme.


Focus on features

Accent lighting can be used to highlight architectural features and special areas of a building by making them significantly brighter than their surround. The eye is attracted to points of brightness and accent lighting can help to establish a visual hierarchy.

Up-lighting is often used for highlighting focal points. It is achieved by mounting a fixture on the ground and aiming the light upwards on a building or structure for different dramatic effects. This directional technique is often employed to illuminate architectural surfaces and details. Employed effectively, it can create an eerie atmosphere if appropriate and can often be found in landscape applications to accentuate bushes and trees.

An alternative way to highlight an architectural feature is by focussing light towards the back of it. Light striking the front of the object is softened or eliminated completely, while the light striking the back renders it in atmospheric silhouette.


Create contrast

Architectural lighting helps give dimension to a building and the landscape surrounding it. From floodlighting surfaces to layering different techniques, stunning effects can be created while adhering to the architectural integrity of the building.

If the façade of a building features a regular pattern of windows, one approach may be to use linear LED luminaires in the recesses. This application leaves the façade relatively dark, but the building itself is seen as a regular pattern of illuminated shapes.

Wall grazing is an architectural lighting technique used to reveal interesting textured surfaces. Lights are positioned closely to a wall, either from the floor or above, forcing the beam of light to hit the wall at a narrow-angle. The angle creates shadows and draws the eye to the texture of the wall. Shadows can be deepened or diminished by moving the angle of the lights closer to or further from the wall. Alternatively, wall washing can be used to evenly illuminate a wall or roof with a uniform distribution of intensity across its surface. In this case, shadows are eliminated to create a smooth, even surface.


Lighting applications can be subtle or dramatic, monochromatic or colourful. They draw the eye and influence visual perspective. SERA Technologies offers a wide range of architectural lighting solutions. Contact us today to discuss your LED architectural lighting requirements.