Michael Hayes | Elements of Architecture


Michael Hayes- Elements of Architecture | Light


I’m not always sure architecture can be reduced to its parts; a sum of so many elements, the spaces we make (and the reasons we like them) can be difficult to define. Certainly no one thing may be said to be the cause of success. But in our analysis of architecture, as we seek to nudge a little closer to the secrets of great work, it can be useful to compartmentalise, zoom in, and focus.

The following article is the first in a series of short texts which aim to consider some of the components fundamental to the making of architecture. Written in conjunction with Architecture and Building Expo 2018, these columns are intended to reflect on the particularities central to spatial design, and are but an introduction to the many more insights, ideas, and detailed discussions which will be available in the RDS main hall on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th October, where the annual exhibition will gather architects, builders, and suppliers for two days of communication and collaboration.


As architects, in the many times we draw we can be assured of the convictions of our lines. From the thick black of materials cut to thin-edged backgrounds, there is some semblance of expectation that what is based on the page will be replicated in three dimensions. Charting the layouts of concrete, timber, and steel are the parts we can know and predict. Of less surety, founded more on intuition and guesswork, is the changing hourly, daily, weekly influence of light.

True, some software has brought us expanding means of quantitative and qualitative analysis, but not every space of every project can command this treatment, and much relies still on the architect’s ability to understand and design for this fugitive phenomenon. Because architecturally, there’s few elements as complex, nuanced and so, so crucial to the experience of space.

Itself intangible, light makes all else substantial; determining our perception of colours, textures, and depth. In many ways a mastery of light is the life’s work of the architect, and it is perhaps for this reason that there are so many well-worn quotes on the subject (shout out to Le Corb and Kahn here for telling it like it is). And so no matter how much we know of it, our feeling is that there is always more for us to discover.

In such instances it can be helpful to seek out the advice of our peers, and the Architects’ Choice Product Awards at the Architecture and Building Expo is one such outlet which can prove useful in this regard. Adjudicated by a panel of architects and designers, the jury are asked each year to select the best new products across a range of building categories.

The subject of light, as here discussed, is an area which deserves special attention. In 2017, the Best Lighting Product Award was won by Shane Holland Design Workshop for ‘Cruise’ lights – a series of aluminium pendants made from recovered CO2 pressure vessels, and available in a range of colours and sizes. Settling between the boundary of craft and objet trouvé, the ‘Cruise’ series is a clever and somewhat playful response to our interior lighting needs.

Shane Holland Design Workshop will be returning to Architecture and Building Expo 2018 (stand B21) alongside a number of lighting specialists. LED Group (stand W11) will be on hand to discuss their ROBUS brand of lighting solutions – a range which incorporates a wide choice of interior and exterior applicable products. Within this array of options is the consistent advantage of LED technology. Highlights perhaps include the versatile ‘Spaceman’ 12VDC LED striplight kit and the elegant ‘Atmos’ LED ceiling panel. At the same time DesignLight Ireland (stand A5) will be available to share their particular design expertise, having both the technical skills in photometric analysis and the firsthand knowledge of onsite experience, to help provide the designer’s intended spatial illumination.

The winner of the Best Lighting Product Award in the Architects’ Choice Awards 2018 will be announced at the show, and it will be interesting to witness the full range of new products on display at this year’s event. For more information, please visit archiexpo.ie where you can sign up to the Architecture and Building Expo newsletter, as well as find additional material on exhibitors, talks, and how to visit.