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Architectural surfaces can be transformed with minimal resources by breaking white light into its colours and redirecting them to walls, ceilings or floors. This can be achieved by using materials and components with particular optical properties.

We are all familiar with the rainbow pattern of CDs and DVDs. When positioned near a light source, a CD can cast rainbow effects onto architectural surfaces, as shown in the photo. In fact, the structure of a CD surface, with its closely spaced tracks, effectively acts as a diffraction grating which breaks light into different directions.

Light effects created with CDs on architectural surfaces by Eleonora Nicoletti

Reusing old CDs can be a sustainable option to manipulate light and enhance architectural surfaces with rainbow colours. Similar effects can be achieved with lenses or prisms. While the artist Sean Michael Kenny uses light beams with prisms and lenses, Peter Erskine uses sunlight and prismatic films.

Besides casting rainbow patterns on architectural surfaces, prismatic and holographic films can add brightness and efficiency to existing lights. They can increase the visibility of buildings and spaces both in day- and night-time, as well as in adverse weather conditions. As these materials allow you to reduce artificial lighting, they are a green solution that can be adopted to lower electricity use, carbon emissions and operating costs, potentially reinforcing the sustainability of brands.

Intended for displaying 3D images when suitably lit, holographic films are made of plastic (i. e. polyester) and their low thickness – up to 50 microns - makes them ideal for a variety of applications in architectural environments.

Holographic film by

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