Luminous walls belong to the essential repertoire of qualitative lighting design. With light, spaces can be defined and reinterpreted, explained Thomas Schielke at the Professional Lighting Design Conference 2011 in Madrid. Illuminated walls allow us to provide orientation and to perceive the form and dimension of space. Further, their glow and play of brilliants could bestow a space with an impressing scenography. The timeline reveals different lighting approaches: From backlit stained glass windows for spiritual enlightenment in the gothic period to modernist uniform wallwashing. Contemporary examples will open the view for pixelated colour changing planes based on LED technology. The movie with an overview of international projects covers lighting methods and techniques for luminous walls and their visual appearance. With a perception-orientated design perspective the designer could use vertical illuminance to create bright spaces and thereby also contribute to sustainable lighting solutions.
The German Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe in Barcelona, is probably the first example for an electrical backlit translucent glass wall. For the later 860-880 Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, Mies van der Rohe continued his pursuit for backlit walls before he realised in collaboration with Richard Kelly the uniformly wallwashed lobby for the Seagram Building in New York.
With the development of LEDs, lighting designers were able to pick up the concept of dynamic light pixels for interior spaces. The first installations by artists and designers showed the pure technical looking LED in rectangular patterns.
The combination of LED or OLED walls with video screen technology brought high resolution images into our environment raising the question if we are more interested in luminous walls, LED pixels or dynamic imagery.