Matt Flynn of Flynn Architecture and Design, based in Crystal Lake, Illinois, presents Light Arrival, a project at a private residence
where an ingenious acrylic ceiling bathes an east-facing sunroom in waves of light
Having tired of Chicago’s humid summers and cold winters limiting their
use of an existing screened porch, the clients requested an enclosed
sunroom, uplifting and full of light, to be enjoyed year round. As the
architect, I wanted a fluid presence to soften the rectangular space.
The initial intention was to build the ceiling in flexible drywall. But when
lighting for the room was discussed – with the typical solutions being
recessed ceiling fixtures or cove lighting – the design concept took a
sharp bend. By constructing the project in translucent acrylic and hiding
the light fixtures above it, the entire ceiling became the sole lighting
element in the space.
A velvety, matte-finished acrylic was chosen to eliminate mirrored
reflections. With its large material presence, the surface began to flow
over and down walls to further engage the architecture. The sculptural
form, surprisingly, avoids becoming a brutal focal point by its sheer size
and undulating geometry. By extending to and beyond the sunroom’s
boundaries, the ceiling passes beyond the field of vision from any single
vantage point, turning into an environment rather than an object.
The curved surfaces cross and blend each other to create a non-
hierarchical and asymmetrical yet balanced composition. The lack of a
singular focus allows the clients to relax below without distraction from
the fluid presence overhead. Night-time dissolves the physical character
of the sculpture as the ceiling’s form dematerialises into light.
With the sculptural ceiling only 8in (20cm) away from the underside of
the roof in certain locations, perimeter lighting or scattered point fixtures
would have caused hotspots and dim areas. Accordingly, a large, uniform
lighting array was needed to avoid fall off. Low-voltage LED tape strips
were chosen for their long life span, diode spacing and capacity to cover
vast areas inexpensively.
Colour temperatures alternate between 3100K and 4000K in order to
blend a fuller light spectrum and create cleaner, whiter light. Electrical
wiring halves the room and then divides the LEDs again by colour before
tying into four dimmers. Although the project was exempt from energy
Alternating warm and
cool LED tape strips create
cleaner, whiter light