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Andre Tammes: Spotlit

In 30+ years as a central figure in global architectural lighting design, Andre Tammes, Indesign’s new lighting editor, has experienced huge changes in lighting – and foresees more to come, as he told Carl Gardner.

Andre Tammes: Spotlit


June 27th, 2013

Low voltage tungsten halogen (lvth) lighting was just making its market debut in 1984, when Andre Tammes set up Lighting Design Partnership (LDP) the UK’s first independent lighting design practice, with the late Jonathan Speirs.

Erasmus Bridge Rotterdam

Erasmus Bridge, Rotterdam

It is a measure of this fast-moving sector that now LEDs are threatening to make lvth lighting extinct. After 13 successful years in the UK, Andre came to Sydney to work on an ambitious exterior lighting scheme for the Opera House (only part realised) and the 2000 Olympics stadium… and stayed for the long run.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore9959

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Singapore

‘I knew lighting design would take a long time to get off the ground in Australia, most lighting design was done by engineers,’ Andre argues, ‘… and in many ways the profession here still doesn’t have the liberation from engineering that you see in Europe and the USA.’

Federation Square Melbourne

Federation Square, Melbourne

Nevertheless Andre worked on some landmark schemes, most notably Federation Square, Melbourne – ‘intellectually one of the most compelling and unorthodox lighting projects in the country’ – the Adelaide Entertainment Centre and Hamer Hall, Melbourne. For the rest, LDP in Sydney looked north and west for much of its work, to India, south-east Asia and China. Andre himself is particularly proud of his lighting strategy for Putrajaya in Malaysia, ‘the zenith of clean-slate, blue-sky thinking in lighting, where the city didn’t even exist’.

Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide

Does he see the growth of solid state lighting (SSL) as a game changer for lighting design? ‘SSL is challenging but I fear that it will create a limited palette of technique,’ he says. When Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) finally take off, we will essentially have planer lighting – flat illuminated surfaces – and directional lighting with LEDs, which will lead to a limited range of equipment… much subtlety will be lost.’

Sydney Opera House - north rims

Sydney Opera House Northern Rims, Sydney

After so many years in lighting, where does he want to concentrate his late-life energies? ‘My future interest lies in the use of light as a therapeutic element in the design of health and age care facilities,’ Andre avows. ‘We are only starting to understand the wide range of responses of both healthy and sick human beings have to varying light conditions. I’d like to be part of that fascinating exploration.’

cheonggyecheon seoul

Cheonggyecheon, Seoul

 Andre Tammes



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