All posts by t_schielke115

University of Wuppertal: Light, Lighting and Solar Decathlon Europe

Light not only makes better use of architecture, but also allows it to be interpreted. Both daylight and electric lighting offer a variety of ways to design interior and exterior spaces. This seminar at the University of Wuppertal teaches the basics of perception-based lighting design to introduce the tools architects can use to enhance the quality of architectural designs. Combining theoretical principles with exercises, enables to understand the interplay between light and architecture and confidently develop lighting concepts.  

The course consists of eight modules at the University of Wuppertal. Guest lectures with outstanding experts are part of the curriculum. The course for the summer term 2022 had a special focus on the Solar Decathlon Europe and analyzed the international projects in regard to daylight and lighting. The course light and lighting has been part of the School of Architecture and Civil Engineering since 2020 and is open to Bachelor and Master students.


Part A: Perceiving light

Module 1: Introduction architectural lighting
Module 2: Perception of light, lighting technology for illumination

Part B: Understanding light and architecture

Module 3: Light in urban space
Module 4: Light in interiors

Part C: Developing lighting concepts

Module 5: Daylighting
Module 6: Sustainable lighting design
Module 7: Light in museums and offices
Module 8: Presenting lighting concepts

Daylight Study

Model with direct sunlight in the morning, noon and evening

Design Anna Michelle Usslar
Design: Annika Porschen

Project analyis day and night

Design: Henry Cequena

Guest lectures

Protests at night: Light, art and design for democracy, social justice and climate movement

Rising protests in recent years to address ecological, social and political issues have motivated artists and activists to reflect their strategy of interventions. In this connection light has become an attractive element to create striking images and videos to enhance press and social media communication. Different new forms have emerged. Previously using a sea of candles to show solidarity and to express unity has been replaced with bright LED flashlights from mobile phones. Projection with graphics and text enable artists and activists to underline their core messages or even to temporarily take possession of iconic landmarks. In fact, the luminous form of protest has allowed creative minds to circumvent governmental restrictions like forbidding gatherings of large groups. The smart use of light to enhance protests was already visible in the Occupy Wall Street protest and has been evident in recent demonstrations regarding climate change, Black Lives Matter or the LGBT movement. Artists like Krzystof Wodiczko, Robin Bell, Jenny Holzer, Dustin Klein, The Illuminator collective, Joanie Lemercier and Delight Lab have created projects in the recent years to address the rising social, ecological and political issues in the USA, South America and Europe.

If your protests or publication should be considered please send me an email.

– Interventions at night: Light, art and design for social change. KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm / Sweden, 19.10.2023
– Interventions at night: Light, art and design for social change. Municipal museum in Lüdenscheid / Germany, 10.02.2023
– When facades call for social change. KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm / Sweden, 22.09.2022
– Protests at night. KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm / Sweden, 22.09.2021
– Urban lighting between identity and transformation. Élat Lighting Initiative in Saskatoon / Canada, 12.2.2021
– Protests at night – From candlelight vigils to guerilla projections. KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm / Sweden, 15.10.2020

Cities Light Up in Solidarity With Ukraine: From Internationally Synchronized Illuminations to Projection Activism, Drone Shows and Global Art Projects. Media Architecture Biennale, 2023
– Krzysztof Wodiczko: monuments, projections and protest. An interview with Thomas Schielke. Sculpture Journal, 2022
When Architecture Shows Solidarity with China Combating Coronavirus. ArchDaily, 2020
Media scapes in China: The empire of figures transforms into connected media facades. Media Architecture Biennale, 2021.
The Language of Lighting: Applying Semiotics in the Evaluation of Lighting Design. Leukos, 2019.
Streetscapes at Night: Lighting between Safety, Identity and Transformation. 3rd City Street Conference, 2018.

Master thesis mentoring
Light for democracy: Lighting as a tool for Brazilian political protests. KTH Stockholm: Helena Peres Caixeta Silva, 2022

Global protests at night

Selected events, artists and activists

Interesting social media channels of artists and activists:

Branding with light: When change is more important than continuity

The success of corporate design guidelines ends with holding on to past values while
the environment has changed dramatically. Numerous retail brands de ne not only their furniture and materials but also their lighting. While the standards focus on good visibility, interior designers have recognised that lighting can be a powerful medium to communicate the core brand values. Focal glow, creating brilliance and drama helps to emphasise the exclusive and high-end character of a brand. In contrast, di use brightness of light lines underlines the equality. This warehouse look is typical for low budget supermarkets, where accent lighting could confuse the consumer’s expectation for a bargain.

Branding with light: When change is more important than continuity. In: Arc Magazine. 2019. P 50-51.

Urban Data as Light – From Sensor-Driven Media Facades to Data Communication Through Visual Light

Software-driven LED media façades provide new capabilities for projecting dynamic visualizations of data onto buildings as an integral part of the architecture and urban appearance. Although this trend with luminous facades including dynamic content is often linked with commercial signage and advertising, it has revived a longstanding critical debate about the roles of architectural ornamentation and iconicism. Yet media façades are becoming more than a canvas for static and repetitive brand displays. Some installations integrate sensors and interfaces to heighten their dynamism and social engagement. Using smart networks, their luminous performances are no longer restricted to a single building, but can include several buildings simultaneously. Furthermore, intelligent networks can link façades around the world. Due to these developments, designers, as well as users, need to gain experience in order to meet the challenges of connected cities, participatory models and visualization techniques. The spread of responsive surfaces will lead to new forms of urban communication. Their design will determine if we will encounter superficial monologues or long lasting memories. The following overview of sensor technology reveals the extent to which media façades react dynamically. In addition, this relatively new technique of visual light communication introduces LED light as a data transmitter.


Urban Data as Light – From Sensor-Driven Media Facades to Data Communication Through Visual Light. In: a +u (Architecture + Urbanism). 2014, 530, p.56-61.

ArchDaily: Light Matters

The column “Light Matters” on ArchDaily explores the development of contemporary light patterns, technologies and visualisation techniques to detect historical influences and to critically discuss the progress of light and architecture. Since 2013 the articles have presented for example masters of light like Tadao Ando, Louis Kahn, Norman Foster or Zaha Hadid. Talking about sustainable approaches regarding daylight, illumination or outdoor lighting are an essential part of the column as well.

ArchDaily has become one of the 1,000 most visited websites on the Internet, according to the latest Alexa Internet ranking in 2020. More than 360,000 users visit the flagship English-speaking platform every day, which when combined with the network of Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese sites, creates a daily global audience of 650,000 people: the most visited architecture network in the world.


ArchDaily: Light Matters
ArchDaily Brasil: Light Matters
ArchDaily Mexico: Light Matters
ArchDaily China: Light Matters

Klaus-Jürgen Maack: Light is the fourth dimension of architecture

Klaus-Jürgen Maack (1938-2019), former CEO of ERCO, presented an impressive speech for his product designer Alois Dworschak, who retired after having worked for ERCO for more than three decades.

Klaus-Jürgen Maack was born 1938 in Lüdenscheid. He studied as printing engineer in Stuttgart. From 1965 till 2003 he was managing director of ERCO. He introduced ERCO´s maxim “We sell light, not luminaries” and introduced a paradigm shift for the company. His book “ERCO Lichtfabrik” offers a comprehensive overview of his corporate design and product design approach. With his visionary management the company received numerous awards for graphic and product design. He was awarded with the “Bundespreis für Förderer des Designs”. Maack was also chairman of the board of the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen.
Mr Maack started originally an apprenticeship as industrial management assistant in a printing press in Bremen and studied printing in Stuttgart. In 1963, he started to work at ERCO in Lüdenscheid. With leading product designers he introduced innovative luminaire programs. In the mid of the 1970s he initiated the collaboration with the graphic designer Otl Aicher for defining the corporated identity for ERCO as a basis for the visual communication. Projects like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Louvre in Paris or the Reichstag in Berlin are illuminated by ERCO.

Principles useful for thinking in light according to Klaus-Jürgen Maack:

  1. Light is “the fourth dimension” of architecture. Light interprets spaces, makes them perceptible, makes it possible to experience them.
  2. Light is invisible in the light path. Light is therefore a medium that is not visible, but makes visible.
  3. Light includes shadow, semi-darkness and contrast to make space or objects an experience.
  4. It takes many light sources to make a room appear dark, perhaps more than to make it uniformly bright.
  5. The quality of perception and the quality of vision are the result of good lighting.
  6. The prerequisite for good lighting is visual comfort, i.e. glare-free and reflection-free light.
  7. Light on vertical surfaces is usually more important for perception than light on horizontal surfaces.
  8. Seeing is the most important sense of perception before smelling, tasting, hearing and feeling.
  9. Ambient luminescence, focal glow and play of brilliants is the basic structuring for luminaire development as well as for lighting design.
  10. The luminaire is first and foremost a lighting instrument, a lighting tool for a specific application and not an aesthetic object.
  11. The respective luminaire fashion may be good for the respective fashion of room decoration, but it probably solves lighting problems more by chance – not consciously.
  12. Whoever illuminates a room must think in terms of light qualities and not in terms of beautiful forms.

Principles were published in the ERCO book “Lichtfabrik” in 1990.

Superlux symposium: From productivism to scenography Urban branding

Germany-based essayists for the SuperLux book, and leading European light artists and lighting industry publishers and advocates, debated recent developments in the smart light cities movement, at an English-language symposium hosted by the Faculty of Architecture at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in 2016.

On a benign winter’s evening during the city’s Christmas celebrations, the faculty’s Acting Dean, Professor Hannelore Deubzer, welcomed speakers and delegates to its rooftop seminar centre, the Vorholzer Forum, then introduced Dr Thomas Schielke, a SuperLux essayist, light architecture columnist for ArchDaily, and a communications and education leader with ERCO, to conduct the presentations.

SuperLux speakers at sunset on the roof court of TUM’s Vorholzer Forum. From left: Alison Ritter, Marco Neuss, Richard Cervinka, Vesna Petresin, Thorsten Bauer, Thomas Schielke, Davina Jackson, Joachim Ritter, Nuno Galvao, Peter Droege, Lutz Harrer.

SuperLux essayists Schielke, Vesna Petresin, and the book’s editor, Davina Jackson, spoke about recent developments in urban light art. Another essayist, Peter Droege, clarified the beyond-urgent need to power cities only with renewable sources of energy, but noted that lighting amounted to only about two percent of the world’s total energy consumption.

Read more about the SuperLux book here: SuperLux


ArchDaily: From Productivism to Scenography: The Relighting of Norman Foster’s Hongkong and Shanghai Bank


Three decades ago the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank (HSBC) Headquarters by Norman Foster emerged onto the architectural seen as an exemplary product of industrial design. The open layout with its exposed steel structure generated a powerful corporate identity for the bank. But the restrained atmosphere of white architectural lighting and the lack of distinctive façade lighting has lost its attractiveness after sunset. Now the colorful and dynamic relighting presents a remarkable example of how an architectural icon has shifted from a productivist ideology towards a scenographic image.

Bettina Pelz: International Light Festivals

Bettina Pelz, curator for light festivals, explains the difference in light festivals within Europe and in a global context. She discusses the developments in cities like Sydney, Singapore, Lyon, Eindhoven, Berlin and Lüdenscheid. About Bettina Pelz: Focus of her exhibition practice is light as material and media in contemporary art, integrated design and digital media. Since 1999, and since 2001 partly in cooperation with Tom Groll, she developed various exhibition formats. She lives in the German Ruhr Region.

Interview topics

  • International Light Festivals
  • Digital Media and Light Technology
  • Work and Inspiration for Light Art
  • Light Festivals

Read more about the curator: Bettina Pelz

Luoxi Hao: Teaching lighting design and understanding illumination in China

Luoxi Hao is a leading expert in China. She worked on the masterplan for the Shanghai Expo 2010. Luoxi Hao is vice chairman of China Illuminating Engineering Society (CIES), as well as Shanghai Illuminating Engineering Society (SIES). She is director of architectural physics branch, Architectural Society of China. She leads the China Illuminating Engineering Journal as Vice Editor-in-chief.

  • Lighting in Asia versus Europe
  • The big lighting projects
  • Media facades
  • Future of lighting education
  • Introduction to Vision and Perceptions
  • Traditional lighting in China
  • Sustainability and Lighting

The legendary William M. C. Lam shares his view of the lighting design history and his design approach

William M.C. Lam (1924-2012) was president of the lighting design office Lam Partners Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He received his Bacholor of Architecture degree from MIT in 1949. He has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and MIT and served as a lighting design consultant on more than 1500 projects. His numerous articles have been used as lighting texts in schools of architecture, design, and engineering all over the world. He is the author of the books “Perception and Lighting as Formgivers for Architecture” (McGraw-Hill, 1977) and “Sunlighting as Formgiver for Architecture” (Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1986) and published guidelines like “Approach to Design of the Luminous Environment” (State University Construction Fund, 1976). For “Architectural Record” he wrote articles like “Lighting for Architecture” (1963), “Lighting for Cities” (1965) and “North American office lighting over four decades” (1989). Some publication are available online at the website William M. C. Lam.


  • Richard Kelly
  • Communicating Lighting Concepts
  • Lighting Washington Metro
  • Lighting Streets
  • Lighting Restaurants
  • Decorative Lighting
  • Energy-efficient lighting
  • LED Lighting

The interview was done in 2007 in his home in Cambridge.