Workspace Design and Lighting: An Architect’s Perspective

Lighting is a key component of design. Whether you’re designing retail stores, art galleries, residential buildings, or workplaces, lighting can help or hinder you in giving your space the right tone and ambiance.

This article is part of our ‘workplace design’ series

Adriana Almada, Architect and Project Manager at Hap Proyectos in Mexico, discussed with Allwork some of the challenges of striking the right balance with lighting and tips to ensure good lighting even in unfavorable conditions.

“It all depends on the space you want to illuminate,” Almada began. “Before setting out and planning where light bulbs should be installed and what type of illuminary you want to use, it’s important to define how the space will be used and by whom.”

Flexible workspace operators need to think about this when planning out their space; which areas will be shared working areas, which ones will be private offices, which ones will be meeting rooms, and which ones will be lounge zones.

“Truth be told,” Almada says, “sometimes the best way to achieve the best possible lighting is through trial and error.” However, this is changing fast with smart technology and facility management software that provide space owners with unique insights about their space utilization and how the end-user is behaving.

Artificial lighting is one thing; natural light is another. When picking out a new workspace location, it’s essential that you take into consideration the role of natural light. In an interview a few months ago, former workspace members confessed that lack of natural light led them to end their membership and find somewhere else to work.

We don’t blame them, as being exposed to natural light has various positive effects: increased productivity, better sleep patterns, and ‘happy feelings’. If, however, the space you are looking at or currently have, doesn’t lend itself to let a significant amount of natural light in, Almada suggests focusing on your space orientation, like placing windows in the south part of your space. Additionally, she says that if the space has few natural light sources, “these spaces should be left open and unobstructed–this means no excessive or big furniture–and you should use light colors to help create a sense of brightness. Additionally, I always encourage clients to use plants to help give any space an added layer of ‘life’.”

Almada further expanded on the topic of color and lighting stating that “colors are a key component in the process of defining space illumination. Bright colors help give a sense of increased lighting and amplitude. Dark colors, on the other hand, can make spaces seem reduced and less ‘lively’. Nonetheless, I always tell clients that they shouldn’t marry either bright or dark colors; I suggest using a combination of both in order to achieve the desired level of comfort and to create the desired environment.”

Closing off, Almada reminded us that in the end, it all comes down to the end-user of the space and his or her preferences. In order to create the perfect experience and provide the ideal workspace, you need to understand who is using your space, when they are using it, and how they are using it.