AWA NEWS: “Getting It Built- No Excuses!” Series- Part 3 of 4

AWA NEWS: “Getting It Built- No Excuses!” Series- Part 3 of 4

PART 3 of 4
Performance Specifications

Getting it built per the design intent while wading through cost-cutting, fixture substitutions, design changes, and delays is not a walk in the park. We work intently to get our design ideas built correctly and delete the likelihood of excuses and post-facto rationalization that can sometimes be used to explain shoddy execution of design intent. One of the key reasons for our success with projects around the world is that we develop stringent performance guidelines- getting into the guts of the fixture, understanding site conditions, and installation practices of the contractors. These three aspects together inform the processes of construction administration and execution of the projects on site. 

Abhay Wadhwa
Design Principal  l  CEO
AWA Lighting Designers

AWA Showcase Project: ICC Towers

The ICC – Island City Center development is a 22-acre project that was completed earlier in 2021. The impact of climate was key to the development of the specifications and selection of light fixtures on this project. Some of those considerations were humidity, temperature, bugs, mice, and birds. These aspects are often forgotten or overlooked when working on architectural projects in tough climates.

view of towers

The pool area was a centerpiece to the podium landscape. We designed an array of underwater lights at one end of the pool. In anticipation of the need for possible maintenance in the future, we developed specifications that required each light fixture to be provided with 5 meters of extra wire lead. This was done to ensure the maintenance of the fixture did not require the pool to be drained out to maintain the light fixtures. Every light fixture could simply be removed, repaired, and placed back into the pool without issue because of the long wire access.

The choice of hardware must also be informed by whether the environment is near the ocean as the salty air will harm the componentry. The wiring processes for the fire-refuge floors were developed with the impact of the humidity and moisture in mind. The fixtures were revamped to work in the changing world that we live in. 

For the tree uplights, we mandated a 600mm concrete pedestal to be provided to stabilize their position over the life of the project. It also provided a level of protection from the possible pooling of water at the base of each light. We could not just specify a light fixture from a fancy branded manufacturer and think it was going to hold up. Water finds the weakest link in any light fixture assembly and seeps through via capillary action, and unless there is a system of valves and exits for the moisture, we will get condensation within the fixture. In landscape fixtures with a removable lens, we will work with the contractor to run the fixture through the day without the lens, and then put the lens on at sunset. This will help in drying up the moisture within the fixture.

installation of lighting bollard along path (left)
Installation of tree uplight with 600mm concrete base (right)

How do we take care of birds and their deposits on light fixtures? The bird deposits are fairly caustic to light fixtures. How do we take care of the bugs and insects that like to make light fixtures their final resting places? The answer to this question is not in technology and gadgets, but in making appropriate design decisions. If we are in the tropics and the architectural design is using exterior coves, we have to advise strongly against it since the accumulation of bugs and insects will be substantial. If the light fixtures provide a prominent upward-facing horizontal light surface, then the birds will come there to warm their seats and leave their deposits. That in turn will reduce the light efficiency of the fixture, and result in the reduced energy efficiency of the system.

In conclusion, understanding the context, the site conditions, and installation practices should be the reasons behind the specification of light fixtures. Fixture aesthetics are important but if used incorrectly or in the wrong context, a good looing light fixture will turn ugly very quickly. 


Please stay tuned for our next newsletter in the “Getting It Built- No Excuses!” Series which will be released next Tuesday.

  • PART 4 of 4 – Where are We Going?

Read Part 1 of 4 – “Getting It Built- No Excuses!” Introduction Newsletter HERE.
Read Part 2 of 4 – Overcoming Site Conditions – AWA Showcase Project: Ark of Return HERE.

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