ed. by Davina Jackson. Thames & Hudson, November 2015. 272 p. ill. ISBN 9780500343 (cl.), $55.00.
Reviewed March 2016
Barbara Opar, Architecture Librarian, Syracuse University Libraries, email@example.com
The number of books addressing the topic of lighting from a design perspective is quite limited, so each new addition to the literature is welcome; this is certainly the case with SuperLux, with its unique approach and example filled pages. Davina Jackson introduces the topic of lighting innovations and emphasizes that "this book is the world's first comprehensively illustrated monograph surveying contemporary landmarks and outstanding creativity in the emerging movement of smart (electroluminescent) light for urban art, architecture and environments" (9). The remarks are appropriate given the overall dearth of information on new concepts in lighting design.
This valuable new work is divided into three sections: "Elevations," "Environments," and "Exhibits," with each section further divided. "Elevations" begins with an essay by Peter Weibel and discusses approaches to lighting buildings for outdoor viewing. The essay traces early examples of this type of lighting, describing in some detail Raymond Hood's lighting strategies. Unique contemporary examples are shown like the metal halide lamps which illuminate the Melbourne Theatre Company. Section two is devoted to "Environments" and includes key examples of parks, plazas and promenades as well as streets, stairs, and bridges. Again the selection of examples is inspirational, current, and international in scope, for example, the two page introduction to the first part of this section discusses how light artworks can impact infrastructure. The essay for the "Parks, Plazas, Promenades" division describes place legibility and also talks about concerns like the use of public funds for innovative lighting, noting the need for the fixtures to be durable, vandal resistant, and energy efficient. Section three of the book, "Exhibits," includes divisions on "Dynamic Objects," "Immersions," and "Interior Intrigues." The first division includes kinetic art, while "Immersions" deals with user interactions. The last division suggests that public space offers exciting potential for lighting; light showers and virtual floors are among the interesting examples shown.
In summary, this book has much to recommend it to academic libraries with specialized collections in architecture and the design fields. There are clear photographs in color, up-to- date international examples, and detailed descriptions of the projects and materials used. Project credits at the end of the book provide even more information about the actual examples. Targeted essays by leading lighting experts (biographical information is included) and a two page bibliography of books and chapters on lighting innovations help the end user to understand advances being made in lighting design.