Say, you don’t like brutalist buildings? Shed some light, then

It might be the fact that brutalism is falling out of favour with some – we hear a certain commander-in-chief is not a fan of beton brut’s best – combined with the galloping death of night clubs at the hands of dating apps. It might also be the increasing affordability and widening variety of LED lighting.

Whatever the reasons, the fact is we keep seeing more and more residential uses for directed luminaries that turn unsuspecting black or grey walls by day into proper dancefloors by night. Here are three of our favourite examples, set in minimalist, neo-Catalonian and brutalist spaces.


WHAT: An all-in-one bedroom for a child
WHERE: Barcelona

The owner of a penthouse in the Raval neighbourhood had an understandable request: a bedroom for a child that could evolve – and even transform – with the passage of time. Adrián Jurado and Jaime Fernández, the architects behind P-M-A-A, answered that call with an odd object. ‘We started thinking of the bedroom versus furniture… then furniture itself as an artifact, the artifact as an object, a set of objects as a collection and a collection of four objects as a cube, which then goes back to constitute a piece of furniture’ explained Jurado.

The result was a 4-sq-m cube that contains inside a staircase, a wardrobe, a platform and a cushion that can transform into a bed, a nightstand and a daybed to read in.

But there’s a second transformation in place: at night, the cube’s young owner can turn on two strips of blue and orange LED lights, two metres long each. As they hit the mirrored surface and meet, they form a triangular liminal space made of a light spectrum. ‘Our client has told us that the child goes around the light space as if it were a cabin of sorts,’ Fernández said.

Photos by José Hevia



WHAT: A controversial brutalist pavilion seen under a new light
WHERE: Peterlee, UK

To commemorate the Apollo space programme, in 1969 Victor Pasmore erected a brutalist tribute atop a small lake on the Sunny Blunts Estate, on the East coast of England. Locals wasted no time in complaining about the addition to the landscape, and the spot was quickly vandalized with graffiti – the architect himself later said that, if anything, the paint had humanized the building.

But as time heals many wounds, even those of the design kind, the Apollo Pavilion was awarded a Grade-II heritage listing and was subsequently restored.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Berlin-based art-chitects Holger Mader and Heike Wiermann ‘re-humanized’ the structure via an eight-minute mapping loop that evokes bold Bauhaus lines and the paintings made by Pasmore, featuring amorphous subjects. ‘To see the space “in another light” is to see it anew, or even for the first time,’ mused Holger Mader. ‘Normally, the real is often covered by interpretations, meanings and habit. We are interested in working out the basic layer underneath by making something temporarily strange – in this case, by setting this heavy brutalist structure in motion.’

And what do you know? According to the Mader and Wiermann, the residents seem to like it.

Photos by Harry Riccardo and the Estate of Victor Pasmore



WHAT: The mother of all party-ready houses
WHERE: Mexico City

In Mexico City, it doesn’t get any posher than Bosques de las Lomas. The colonia is home to an impressive range of high-end stores and services, but also understandably houses some of the most visually intriguing residential projects in the Mexican capital.

The Rombo IV house, by a local firm led by architect Miguel Ángel Aragonés, is one of them. It’s a highly angular minimalist villa before sunset, with walls painted white. At night, though, the dwelling becomes flooded in neon lights, going from pink and red and purple to orange and yellow and blue. Due to the open-plan layout and the smart use of cut-outs, the ground floor of the three-storey villa is probably one of the most party-ready residential locations in the city.

That is to say: by adjusting the light settings, the owners can practically live inside a new house every night.

Photos by Joe Fletcher

Want to see more creative lighting projects? Read our case studies here.

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