Several years ago, in Los Angeles, I visited Frank Gehry’s Disney Concert hall. During that visit I was stopped in my tracks by a bit of light that had reflected from one side of the building to another. There were no plants, it wasn’t a garden, but the light created magic and a destination of its own. I’ve often thought about that image and its light in an abstract way knowing at some point I would want to explore its possibilities.
In school–we go to the dark side–shade. We’re taught about shade, how to deal with shade, how to create shade, the varying types of shade, and the patterns made by shade. We’re taught to make shade studies but we’re not taught about light unless it is about how much sun a plant or garden has or needs. We learn about the angle of the sun in winter vs. summer, but not how to harness that light as design element. We consider how to light a garden in the evening hours yet not how to manipulate the light it gets naturally during the day.
Yesterday, as is my habit, I was out walking in the early morning. When I turned around to head home I was stopped short by the most amazing fuchsia morning sky backlighting a stand of trees. It has got me thinking again about the power of natural light in the landscape and how we as designers miss incredible opportunities to create magic by not manipulating natural light.