Modern outdoor lighting places heavy emphasis on architecture in such a way as to create a sense of living outdoors.
It is more effect oriented than function oriented— as if the feeling of being inside has been taken from the home interior and placed around structures and gathering places throughout the yard. Selective illumination is then spaced around trees and gardens to distinguish the organic nature of outdoor space from the more sterile and cerebral elements of the inside of the house. This has to be done very carefully, though, so we do not undermine the feeling of modern living we aim to create.
Showcasing the architecture of the home itself is our top priority in a modern outdoor lighting. The house is the first thing people notice when they drive up to the property. No matter what we do to the landscape around it, the house defines the property. Its size and style make it the dominant on the landscape, and it is symbolizes the most personal and private elements of its residents. Every house has certain elements that characterize it as unique in comparison to neighboring residences. These features lend it character, and help it take on a life of its own. When prospective homeowners buy a house, they are often unconsciously drawn to architectural designs that most reflect their own personalities and lifestyles.
The modern outdoor lighting expert understands just how important of home architecture and looks for ways to highlight these key features as representative of the entire home design. At night, only the elements illuminated will be visible, so it is essential that the basic points of definition be pinpointed and mapped out. In order to do this correctly, landscape architects first surveys the property by walking a full 360 degrees around the house. They isolate and itemize these features first, and then they go back and determine from which vantage points they can be illuminated to give them maximum preeminence on the landscape. Once the survey has been finished, they make their calculations integrate them into the master landscaping plan. This master plan makes it easier to then work with a professional lighting company whose abilities in modern outdoor lighting can be directed not only toward a home-value improvement, but toward a property-value one as well.
The type of equipment used in modern outdoor lighting must be premium quality. It should be tested and rated as specification grade—a level of quality that far exceeds retail home lighting fixtures. Specification grade fixtures can be installed by the outdoor lighting contractor in one of two fashions. They can be installed from concealed positions that create patterns of apparently sourceless illumination over rooftops, balconies, and chimneys. Or, they can be installed as decorative elements in their own right that beautify and compliment home architecture with ornamental fixture colors and designs. In both scenarios, however, the angle at which the light strikes the rooftop, balcony, window, or chimney is the most important issue. Without striking the proper angle of incidence, there will be glare that can spill over into neighboring properties, or there will be shadows that can obscure entire portions of the house.
Once the home is illuminated, a circle of luminance then expands past its walls into the landscape beyond. Public gathering areas such as pools and patios are always paid close attention to in modern outdoor lighting. With the right type of lighting, a pool will become a mirror to the home, and its patio will become a new form of living room, punctuated by anything from decorative lamp posts that stand like sentinels around its perimeter to pool of artificial moonlight cast by mercury vapor lights around the bottoms of nearby trees. Ornamental landscape features like statues and fountains are also treated with special emphasis in modern outdoor lighting design. As are artistic creations, they contribute a powerful sense of a uniquely human experience to the outside world in which they are displayed.
While the intention up until this point has been to illuminate structure that will make guests feel at home outdoors, modern outdoor lighting designer must also pays homage to the natural world that surrounds these islands of comfort. In many projects, bamboo shoots, rows of yew trees, and the larger species of boxwoods can be planted near garden patios, outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, and patios near Zen gardens. Such organic elements can subsequently be magnified with uplights that turn them into walls of living greenery. Many such treatments can be done throughout the property to create the feeling that guests are lounging in outdoor living rooms that further bring the indoors to the outdoors, the comforts of the home to the diversity and freedom of the yard.