Light and Wayfinding: A Symbiotic Relationship

Wayfinding Lighting

Written by Made by Landmark - 11 Aug 2023

Light is a powerful tool to help us orient ourselves in a space. It helps us to discover where we are and where we intend on going. From a wayfinding standpoint, it’s about opening up a space in a way that draws people into it, through it and out again. While there are other ways to provide guidance and direction, lighting is a key navigational tool that assists first-time visitors especially. Here we explore how lighting works to improve wayfinding and guide the way.

What is wayfinding and why is it important?

Wayfinding refers to people finding their destination through the use of signage, colour, maps or lighting. It’s known as spatial problem solving in that you know where you are in a space and navigate towards your desired location. The purpose of wayfinding is to inform a visitor of their surroundings and help them to familiarise themselves with the amenities of the space. This is key in multi-faceted spaces like healthcare institutions, airports or educational campuses. It also comes into play for larger spaces like sports fields, national parks and nature reserves.

Wayfinding design elements are popular and can include directional signs and other design elements, and the role of lighting can play a crucial role in wayfinding. Having properly illuminated pathways and sections in outdoor settings where visibility is poorer is extremely important. Not only does lighting show visitors which direction to go, it also has safety benefits.  

The purpose of lighting in wayfinding

The use of lighting as a wayfinding tool is a very well-known method to guide people through buildings or outdoor spaces. The way light is arranged and used in a particular space can have a big impact on the ambience and mood of the environment. So not only can lighting affect how your premises look, but it can also affect how your visitors feel. The most effective lighting is both sufficient to direct people and mood-enhancing. 

In lighting design, wayfinding is all about balancing light and shadow to coerce the eye to move to a particular place. For an outdoor space, wayfinding lighting needs to be subtle but also be visible enough to illuminate a clear path. In a building, lighting is considered as part of interior design and can enhance or detract from the space.

The human eye is naturally attracted to light and brighter areas in our field of vision so lighting works extremely well in wayfinding to provide visual cues, enhance orientation and point people in the right direction, making it easier for them to reach their intended destination. 

Benefits of lighting

Lighting plays a crucial role in supporting effective wayfinding by offering the following benefits:

  1. Visibility 

Adequate lighting ensures that pathways, signage, landmarks and other wayfinding elements are clearly visible to help people easily identify their surroundings. 

  1. Contrast and differentiation 

Light fixtures can be used to create contrasts between different areas such as illuminating pathways, entrances, exits and points of interest. Contrasting lighting assists in distinguishing one area from another to guide people to where they need to be.

  1. Safety and security 

Well-lit areas together with warning signage establish a sense of safety, security and confidence for pedestrians. By shining light on potential hazards, such as uneven surfaces or obstacles, the risk of accidents is reduced. Carefully designed, lower-level lighting can also assist in preventing crime as it prevents excessive glare and gives a clearer view of people. 

  1. Orientation 

Lighting can be used to emphasise landmarks, unique architectural features, or specific points of interest that serve as visual references for wayfinding. This helps individuals to maintain their sense of direction and get better oriented with the area. 

  1. Time of day

Lighting can adapt to the time of the day and create different atmospheres and aid wayfinding regardless of whether it’s daytime or nighttime. Solar-powered lighting is especially useful for both efficient energy usage and lighting up pathways in the dark. 

Wayfinding lighting solutions

Ultimately, the greater the illumination of a space, the greater impact it will have. People are naturally drawn to light and will gravitate towards spaces that are well-lit. Your visitors will also appreciate illuminated pathways to guide them to their destination which makes for a more enjoyable and convenient experience. And they’ll be more likely to return!

At Landmark, we have the perfect wayfinding solutions to bring your destination to life. From lighting bollards to lamp posts, we provide trouble-free discreet and atmospheric lighting for your outdoor space. Contact us today to help you light the way!

Written by Made by Landmark - 11 Aug 2023

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