Saturday, February 7, 2009

Towards the Light

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA designed by Frank Gehry

Several years ago, in Los Angeles, I visited Frank Gehry's Disney Concert hall. During that visit I was stopped in my tracks by a bit of light that had reflected from one side of the building to another. There were no plants, it wasn't a garden, but the light created magic and a destination of its own. I've often thought about that image and its light in an abstract way knowing at some point I would want to explore its possibilities.

In school--we go to the dark side--shade. We're taught about shade, how to deal with shade, how to create shade, the varying types of shade, and the patterns made by shade. We're taught to make shade studies but we're not taught about light unless it is about how much sun a plant or garden has or needs. We learn about the angle of the sun in winter vs. summer, but not how to harness that light as design element. We consider how to light a garden in the evening hours yet not how to manipulate the light it gets naturally during the day.

Yesterday, as is my habit, I was out walking in the early morning. When I turned around to head home I was stopped short by the most amazing fuchsia morning sky backlighting a stand of trees. It has got me thinking again about the power of natural light in the landscape and how we as designers miss incredible opportunities to create magic by not manipulating natural light.


VectorJess said...

I've been there! Amazing structure, space, garden ... the whole works. I was in LA a few months back for a Vectorworks community holiday party. We had just a few hours between arriving and the party, and two VW people - Eric Gilbey, our landscape architect specialist, and one of our architect specialists, wanted to see the space. So not only did I get to be there and experience it, but I also saw it through the eyes of two design professionals.

B said...

Miss Rumphius - your eyes see the world as so many other greats did - Thoureau called himself 'a self proclaimed official inspector of sun rises and sun sets, and he performed his duties religiously'; at at Parisian cafe, Hemmingway rued the fact that some bore came up to speak to him, causing him to 'miss some of the changing of the evening's light';FLW called light 'the great beautifier'; Rick Darke has so well championed the skill of using the natural light in design. Your thoughts also reminded me of Woodie Allan's comment that he recalled when one morning he woke up to a marvelously astounding sunrise and he thought 'what an insinificant creature I am on this Earth', but the next morning it rained and he felt the same way. (excuse my butchering of all quotes)