Innovative exterior lighting design at Siam Discovery

In the field of architectural lighting design, we can produce state-of-the-art, exterior lighting solutions for our clients. In fact, when we transformed the facade of the Siam Discovery shopping centre, in Bangkok, we faced a series of challenges.

Siam Discovery Bangkok Façade Exterior Lighting, Copyright art4d magazine-Ketsiree Wongwan

The renovation

Siam Discovery is a six-storey building on Bangkok’s Rama 1 Thoroughfare owned by retail and development company Siam Piwat. They chose to work with Nendo, the prolific Japanese design studio and architect. Nendo has completely remodelled the 40,000 m² mall interior with a number of notable features. For example, visitors now experience a huge display inside with around 200 video monitors, digital signage and merchandise. However, they have also undertaken extensive work on the facade to create a transparent envelope to create a visual link between outside and in.

The brief

At the time, Nendo delivered an intriguing brief. This was to design an intricate exterior lighting solution, which would appear to be hidden from view during the day. However, at night, we would transform the building into a mesmerising light display. This way, passers-by would be drawn to all the activity in the interior in the daytime via the outer glazing layer, featuring white graphics and the transparent portion of the facade. Then, at nighttime, they would experience a visual treat showcasing dynamic exterior lighting. Essentially, this lighting solution would alter the character of the facade from every angle. It would also conteract extreme heat, which is renowned in this tropical climate.

Exterior Façade Lighting visual by Inverse

Visualising the design

Our first challenge would be to create a way in which to showcase our ideas to the client, Siam Piwat, and architect Nendo. We knew we needed to present an element of the facade in a visual format. This way, our client would be able to understand the thought process behind our exterior lighting design. However, Inverse Lighting Design could also see how each intricate element would work together and even highlight any limitations in our plan.


Essential elements to consider

Siam Discovery’s facade design consists of intricate patterns of clear glazing, which feature several variations. As a result, this creates altering views so one area may have clear glazing alone whereas another section will showcase clear glazing, white sticker, frame and solid backdrop. Other variables include clear glazing with white sticker and clear glazing with white sticker and frame, across the facade. We would also need to consider how the view would alter in line with various viewing positions. So, we would be looking at all these aspects in order to produce a fully-functional, innovative exterior lighting design.

Façade Skin Layers

Testing variables

Our team decided to produce a 1:30 model in order to simulate each variable in our studio. This way, we could test various viewing positions of 10 m, 25m and 50m, from different locations with reference to the building position. In this study, we considered daytime appearance, night time appearance without interior lighting and the view at night with interior lighting. We needed to discover how much brightness contrast we would need to make the frames visible or less visible. Also, which colour temperature would we need to use in order to contrast with the interior? In addition, we would consider the impact from various viewing angles and whether we would be able to get the dynamic quality desired.

How we tested these

So, we measured just how bright the frame, sticker, interior and solid wall were. Then, we could learn how much contrast we would require to meet every eventuality. And also, we could find out on which part of the facade we could use these variations. So, we presented the model and our findings to the client.

Precise measurements

Our first experiment using this model enabled us to define the minimum contrast threshold and colour. So, we could choose the right levels then combine these with the viewing angle to create the desired effect. We then created a 1:1 scale version of the design, which we could study in our studio, to refine our concept. As a result, we could work with our client on choosing colours and defining the minimum contrast required. We could also experience the dynamic 3-D effect we wanted to create on the facade. Therefore, we designed a final 1:1 model, where the study was carried out on site. In fact, we could observe all our findings from every study in the actual building. So, this would enable us to design and create a truly effective architectural lighting plan.

Sequence lighting

For special events, we internally illuminated selected frames to allow for the building to produce a more dynamic appearance. We introduced an addressable control system and colour for each of these frames. Therefore, various sequences can be pre-programmed in-line with themes for a particular occasion.

Now, the facade of Siam Discovery creates a spectacular display along the Bangkok skyline where passers-by can experience this incredible pattern of exterior lighting every evening, when the sun goes down. This is just one example of the intricate attention to detail we pay and in-depth studies we produce for every client. This way, we can ensure every project we work on is bespoke so we can meet every lighting expectation.

If you’d like to see more of our luxury exterior lighting projects, simply click the link here.