Using lighting design, student Björn Thelen's studio project investigates a way to visually expand the size of an elevator lobby and cab.
Using lighting design, student Björn Thelen's studio project investigates a way to visually expand the size of an elevator lobby and cab.

SCHOOL University of Applied Sciences, Bochum, Germany Department for Building Design, Architecture Theory, and Building History
STUDIO/SEMESTER Light and Elevators, Summer 2006
FACULTY Karin Lehmann, professor; Thomas Schielke, teaching assistant
STUDENT Björn Thelen
PROJECT Outside Is Inside
LUMINAIRE TYPES Fluorescent lamps for backlit surfaces; LEDs for elevator glass doors and information display
MATERIALS Glass and printed screens

Exploring lighting's impact on the spatial parameters of an elevator cab was the focus of this studio at the University of Applied Sciences in Bochum, Germany. Taught by faculty members Karin Lehmann and Thomas Schiekle in cooperation with manufacturer Schindler Elevator, architecture students developed multiple solutions to address how light can contribute to and enhance the spatial and experiential quality of elevators in an effort to make these otherwise narrow spaces feel less confined. Students worked in a storyboard format to define different lighting ambiances through the entire sequence of movement from waiting in the lobby to entering, riding, and leaving the elevator.

Student Björn Thelen's concept uses an LED array concealed behind toned-glass doors to indicate the status of the arriving elevator. Playing on the idea of illuminated posters at bus stations, inside the elevator fluorescent lamps backlight images of natural landscape motifs to create the illusion of a space more expansive than the confines of the elevator cab's four walls.

The modular concept for the image panels, with changeable frames for both the walls and the ceiling, enables the images to be quickly and easily adjusted depending on the season, event, or tenant. Mirrored surfaces on the front and back walls of the cab aid in achieving the spacious visual impression and help create a unique experience—a moment of illusion in the constructs of everyday life.

This “experience” extends to the lobby areas as well, with backlit landscape images lining the elevator lobby walls. Video screens with company information or advertisement displays are located at eye-level and provide another scale of information. In this way, by re-envisioning the potential of these small but high-use areas—elevator lobbies and cabs—an exciting and focused lighting concept not only creates a more inviting environment, but also potentially contributes to increased real estate value.