Top 10 lighting experiences to have before you die

April 06 2011 — by Jonathan Speirs
Ray Molony of Lux Magazine asked me to write a ‘top ten’ piece but left it up to me to decide the theme. It was interesting to start to consider what has had an impact on me over the years in terms of light experiences, and, because of my slightly strange sense of humour, I kept coming back to the idea of what my own ‘bucket list’ would be. Below, I share ten places, things or events that have been powerful personal experiences or which remain yet-to-be-achieved desires.

Some may appear obvious but hopefully not all. So, in no particular order …

No.1: The Pantheon, Rome
No.2: Cirque du Soleil, Las Vegas
No.3: La Sainte Chapelle, Paris
No.4: The Lightning Field, New Mexico, USA
No.5: The Aurora Borealis
No.6: The Roden Crater, Arizona
No.7: The Chinati Foundation, Texas
No.8: The Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp
No.9: The Kimbell Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
No.10: The Milky Way

No.1 / Top 10 lighting experiences: The Pantheon, Rome

April 06 2011 — by Jonathan Speirs
A wonder of architecture and light. It was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 AD. Two thousand years later, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. The proportions were designed such that if the dome continued down, it would touch the centre of the floor, a perfect sphere with a diameter of just over 43 metres. The coffering in the dome not only creates visual depth and form but reduces its overall weight.
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No.3 / Top 10 lighting experiences: La Sainte Chapelle, Paris

April 06 2011 — by Jonathan Speirs
La Sainte Chapelle is a 13th century Gothic chapel built on the Ile de la Cité in the heart of Paris and commissioned by Louis IX. There is apparently little documentation as to who the original architect or mason was, but it is thought to be Pierre de Montreuil, with later restoration directed by Violett-Le-Duc in 1855. The architecture is in the Rayonnant style, a term that clearly refers to light and a sense of weightlessness.
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No.4 / Top 10 lighting experiences: The Lightning Field, New Mexico, USA

April 06 2011 — by Jonathan Speirs
High in the remote upper plains of New Mexico, the artist Walter de Maria with the support of the Dia Art Foundation created a permanent experiential art installation. Covering an area of exactly 1 km x 1 mile the artist has installed 400 stainless steel poles with pointed tips. They are just over 22 feet in height and two inches in diameter and laid out at 220 feet intervals. It is a sculpture to be walked in as well as viewed. They are all exactly the same height at their tips, in the sense that you could place a horizontal tabletop over the area and each tip would support it. The idea was that these poles would attract lightning strikes during the period of year when electrical storms are prevalent. The website states it is not a guaranteed event, in fact that they only receive an average of three lightning strikes each month.
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No.5 / Top 10 lighting experiences: The Aurora Borealis

April 06 2011 — by Jonathan Speirs
Many years ago I worked on a hotel project in Alta in the very north of Norway 10 degrees above the Arctic Circle and was able to witness not just the midnight sun but also its alter ego, the midday night.
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