University of Technology Sydney

89115 Lighting Studio: Light, Materials and Space

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Design
Credit points: 12 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


People's conscious and subconscious mind can be manipulated and conditioned by what they see. Seeing is the response of the human perceptual system to light's interaction with surfaces and spaces. Therefore at its very basis, the lighting designer has the tools and the opportunity to recondition the mind, by determining how light interacts with the surrounds and influences the state of the perceptual system.

This studio explores ideas on designing visual environments that influence human moods and emotions, through a deep study of perceptual psychology, visual attributes and modes of appearance. The studio has a strong focus on hands-on experimentation with light, materials and volumes. The participants produce solutions that challenge the traditional use of lighting in the built environment with the objective to open up new possibilities.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate understanding of the basic principles of the interaction of light and materials.
2. Demonstrate understanding of the basic principles of the use of light to model form and space
3. Demonstrate understanding of lighting equipment, technology and controls to create sustainable, healthy and attractive environments.
4. Demonstrate understanding of lighting design calculation methods
5. Demonstrate understanding of the basic principles of electricity

Teaching and learning strategies

Face-to-face sessions will incorporate a range of active learning strategies including modelling, presentations, videos, simulations, and discussion alongside case studies, field studies, readings and reflection. Practical experimentation also forms an important part of the subject to support the theory and assist participants in developing an intuitive know-how on the nature of light and lighting phenomena. This will be complemented by independent student engagement with projects through iterative exploration of design propositions, research and development.

Content (topics)

This subject addresses the following issues and topics:

  1. The History of Lighting Design
  2. Lighting sources, technology and controls.
  3. Lighting methods & applications
  4. Light & materials
  5. Spatial Parameters of light
  6. Sustainable spaces & light
  7. Lighting Calculations
  8. Basics of electricity


Assessment task 1: (1) Investigate the effect of light sources and complex sculptural forms to be used to create celebratory lanterns for a lighting festival. (2) Investigate the effects of light sources on a landmark structure.

Type: Laboratory/practical
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 25%

Assessment task 2: (1) A research opacity or translucency. (2) Design a luminaire. (3) Exam.

Type: Examination
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 35%

Assessment task 3: (1) Carry out research into the use of daylighting for a chosen context. (2) Prepare preliminary design for a planned interior space.(3) Prepare a full client design presentation.

Type: Design/drawing/plan/sketch
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 40%

Required texts

Boyce, Peter R 2003 Human Factors in Lighting 2nd Edition Taylor & Francis New York


Bova, Ben. 2001 The Story of Light, Sourcebooks, Inc, Illinois
Millet, Marietta S. 1997, Light Revealing Architecture, Van Nostrand, Reinhold, New York
Plummer, Henry. 2003. Masters of Light, a+u, Tokyo
Plummer, Henry. 2009. The Architecture of Natural Light, Thames & Hudson, London
Saunders, Mark, S, And McCormick, E J. 1992, Human Factors in Engineering and Design, McGraw-Hill.