Light + Design:

The power of light

The power of light


Massimiliano Fuksas, one of the most recognized international architects, cares deeply about the way that he uses light in his buildings, and is particularly keen on natural light.

He says, “if it were possible I would want natural daylight 24 hours a day.’ Since this is not possible, he believes in bringing light into his buildings in every possible way.


So, for example, at the recently completed Shenzhen airport in China, he has brought light inside through channels, much like Le Corbusier’s “light cannons”. “It’s a light we can define as ‘structural’,” he says.


He continues, “I hate skin and façade: the idea that there can be an outer skin that simply conceals. An organism is a whole, there mustn’t be a rigid distinction between interior and exterior. This is the new role for light: connecting the inside and the outside.”


At Shenzhen, he thought about the building throughout its design in relation to light. As a result, “Rather than a building, it is a landscape that recalls my passion for dunes and lakes.”


Asked how he differentiated between direct and indirect light, Fuksas said, “Direct light is to make space stand out and make it meaningful. Indirect light is for diffused lighting. There is also a third kind of light…the magical light that shines miraculously through a window opening that shouldn’t have been there or through a corner. Without this magical light, a building would not be architecture, intended as a poetic work.”

When it comes to lamps, Fuksas is critical of contemporary design. “I believe the issue today is that we often have ugly light sources and we therefore try to conceal them,” he says. “It’s rare to encounter lamps as beautiful as Castiglioni’s or as those designed in the Fifties and Sixties.”


In addition, “A while ago we designed a lamp for the Fiera di Milano, made of combinable polyhedrons that could create huge aggregations. A good structure, even if made from single parts, mustn’t appear to be just the sum of those parts, but rather as a whole, much like fractals: a module with no unity has no appeal.”

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