Although there are instances where flicker from a light source can be desirable – the flicker of candlelight is one such example and, to be honest, the only one I can think of – for the most part it is annoying and, in some cases, debilitating. Electronic ballasts virtually eliminated the infuriating flicker that was for years the curse of many workplaces, but an old problem has been made new again in the age of LEDs.
In this issue of Lighting in Design, Craig DiLouie defines flicker, explains why it has come back to haunt us, and offers solutions, some of which are: become educated by doing your own investigations, implement best practice designs for your applications, contact manufacturers, measure flicker and evaluate mock-ups and physical samples. He also suggests ensuring proper installation to minimise chances of electrical noise, choosing LED products with high-quality drivers, and pairing these products with compatible dimming controls. It is an interesting article that offers solid practical advice.
As does an article from RET Automation which shows how lighting can be used in a manufacturing environment to increase efficiency by addressing common sources of wasted time and resources in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Lean principles emphasise using time and resources as efficiently as possible to reduce waste and focus instead on value-added activities. We often address the installation of LEDs to ensure energy efficiency but it is really interesting to consider how their application can also improve quality control and reduce the risk of wasted time and materials.
On a more traditional LiD topic, we look at the substance of Arup’s 2015 report, Cities alive: rethinking the shades of night. Town planners around the world too often neglect the potential of night-time lighting. Arup brought together experts of different disciplines to discuss the importance of lighting and what needs to be considered when planning a city. The report takes a holistic view of urban lighting, focusing on four key issues: people, technology, space and process.
Providing what I believe is an excellent example of urban lighting is the creative lighting on the piazza of Central Square in Menlyn Maine, Pretoria. Enhanced by public artworks, water features and trees, and bordered by eateries and coffee shops, the piazza is a popular meeting place designed to make people feel comfortable while they enjoy the outdoor weather of one of South Africa’s best climates. Rather than flood lighting the square or introducing street lighting, the designers chose to use projected gobo mood lighting which is directed from two nine metre high masts. The light adds interest to the surface texture. Glass panel boxes, illuminated from a metre below ground, change colour from whitish blue through shades of blue, and adults and children alike delight in the effect.