Footprint visits Philips Lighting in Eindhoven

AJ news reporter Merlin Fulcher reports

Earlier this month Philips Lighting invited the AJ and four UK architects to visit the company’s base in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The trip preceded a design day charette yesterday where the architects applied Philips’ Liveable Cities regeneration principles to Peckham in south London. Their proposals will feature in an upcoming issue of AJ.

Braving -7⁰C temperatures, the expedition – which included Joe Morris of Duggan Morris, Pie Architecture’s Michael Corr, Robin Lee of Robin Lee Architecture and Kieran Gaffney and Makiko Konishi of Konishi Gaffney –  toured Philips’ High Tech campus, the Lighting Application Centre and a working production line in Aachen, Germany.

While seeing lots of snow – as well as Philips staff ice skating in their lunch hour – we were also shown how low energy light sources could help architects retrofit buildings and reduce the environmental impact of new build schemes.

Lighting designers Dan Lister from Arup, Light Bureau principal Paul Traynor and It Does Lighting’s Lorraine Calcott – also on the journey – helped decode the various products that weencountered.

The big talking point was LEDs, which have come a long way in recent years and now offer 80 per cent energy savings compared to traditional luminaries.

Philips is producing a dimmable 12 Watt MASTER LED bulb which has the equivalent output to a 60 Watt traditional light source.

It’s roughly the same size as the kind of bulbs used in most homes and works with the exact same fitting but looks pretty different and, significantly, has an estimated 25 year lifespan.  The yellow part is a filter for the blue LEDs within.

While for most people this technology means saving money and climbing fewer ladders in the dark, the impact for architects is far greater because LEDs bring with them the opportunity for some very creative applications.

For example, look at this $10 million lightshow Stone Mountain Lighting Group designed for Harrah’s Atlantic City Resort and Casino in New Jersey.

Featuring 4,100 linear feet of Philips iColor Fresco LED tubing, the installation can deliver a range of lighting effects including dramatic colour wipes and large scale moving images – consuming a maximum of 10 Watts per foot.

Hot on LEDs’ heels is the illusive Organic LED – known as the OLED – which could open even greater doors for the design community.

Put simply, the OLED is a giant pixel – or single diffuse light source – which is extremely thin and could, in the future, be printed onto a range of surfaces including paper and fabric.

Looking five or ten years into the future, it wouldn’t be inconceivable to imagine architects using OLEDs as light sources integrated into ceiling panels and glazing. Added flexibility comes from the fact that OLEDs can be transparent when an electrical current is turned off.

Designer Tom Dixon teamed up with Philips Lumiblade to create the Flat Lamp – a mass-produced energy efficient light source featuring slinky thin casings in three different styles.

Yet to be convinced? Watch this video of Pie Architecture’s Michael Corr experiencing Jason Bruge’s mind boggling Mimosa OLED installation.

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