Lighting can transform a building says Regina Santos, GAJ

Lighting design forms the “fourth dimension of architecture” according to Regina Santos, newly recruited to the team at Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ) in Dubai.

Initially an architecture student Santos is now a specialist in lighting and has a full involvement in each project from the very beginning.

“Lighting can really transform a space. For me it adds an extra dimension – a fourth one – to architecture,” says Santos. “It can make a building extraordinary if it is done the right way. But it can, if done badly, make it look plain.

“Use of light has a huge impact on the way we perceive a space. I realised when I started to study it that it was my calling.”

Santos is a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and her first degree was in industrial design. She worked in design and build before taking a post graduate course in the history of both art and architecture as well as studying urban design.

She says: “I then went to an international conference on lighting in Sao Paulo and then I realised that was what I really wanted to do. So I went to Stockholm in Sweden and obtained a Master’s degree in Architectural Lighting Design.

“I came to Dubai six years ago and GAJ is my third company. It has given me the chance to work closely on a project from the start, which is ideal. Sometimes I feel like a child in a candy store as it’s so exciting.

“Lighting can have a profound effect on people’s moods and really enhance an atmosphere. But, for instance, a flickering source can cause severe headaches. So it is vital to get it right.

“Many of us work in an office much of the time and it is important to create a happy and comfortable environment. Clients are usually receptive to this – but the question of cost often does arise. So quite often the issue comes down to cost versus value and for me value is always by far the most important.”


After studying in Brazil and Sweden, Regina Santos was living in Italy when she was invited to come to Dubai. Her first company was DPA and then she moved to Ted Jacobs Engineering before joining up with GAJ.