LEDs last a long time; long enough that they are becoming part of the building fabric, rather than something that is added on. Philips has just introduced OneSpace, where LEDs are actually integrated with fiberglass fabric and become architecture, not just lighting.
“This innovation will redefine how light can be used in architecture and design. Light is now an architectural component – it is no longer an add-on in a space,’’ said Antoon Martens from Philips Lighting. ‘’The ceiling is not often seen as a design element – now, it is transformed by this minimalistic ultra-thin panel of light into a design statement.’’
It is not quite built-in, being a giant panel that is hoisted into place. This is a smart move, because it can act like a suspended ceiling and cover all the building services, while making them accessible when the ceiling is lowered.
It's not the first time ceilings have been used as a design element either; luminous ceilings were hugely popular in the sixties, but were also high maintenance and expensive to operate. This is very different; it can be a single panel of up to 10 x 30 feet, and only 4-1/2 inches thick.
It delivers excellent uniform light distribution for an enhanced daylight experience, which makes it a great functional light to work and be under. The result is a smooth and clutter-free ceiling of beautiful homogeneous light that feels as good as it looks.
Philips quotes Isaac Azimov in 1964, where he predicted that by now we would have "Ceilings and walls will glow softly, and in a variety of colors that will change at the touch of a push button." We are not quite there yet, but this is awfully close.
Now if they only give us luminous floors, then all of my science fiction heroes will have been proven prescient when it comes to the architectural future.