Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Impact of Light

Impact of Light

Before reading this article, I had never thought in depth of how light could influence human health. Designers should promote a healthy environment and light can effect this. In “Influences of Architectural Lighting on Health,” Eve Edelstein mentions that “most living species respond to changing patterns of light and dark” (1). During the summer, I would naturally wake up around the same time of day. This shows that the pattern of light even effects our sleeping. For my father, the seasonal changes of light alter his mood and create other negative effects. To ease his anxiety, he will sometimes sit underneath a lamp without a shade and close his eyes. I have often wondered why culture continues to have Daylight Savings Time when there are negative effects such as “restlessness, sleep disruption, and shorter sleep duration” (O’Connor 1). Edelstein considers that more light is not better for us. Certain lights will sometimes give me the worse headaches recognizing that “typical electrical lighting systems do not emulate the natural patterns of daylight” (4). Sometimes I feel as though there is too much light in the studio space of the Gatewood building. The glare creates an uncomfortable setting while working. Our body responds to many light sources. Reading about the uses of light in hospital setting makes me realize how light can have negative effects on patients. The right amount of light could help the healing process if understood better. This inspires us as designers to think about the lighting choices in our space and whether or not it correlates with the occupant and function of the space.

Light Revealing Experiences

“Light Revealing Architecture”

Kathryn Frye

Light is not only experiential but can also reveal past experiences. The fact that we only know what we experience affects many of our cultural and personal choices. Almost every person has experienced light in one way or another. How we interpret this light depends entirely on our environment or experiences. “But almost all human beings have experienced daylight, moonlight, starlight, and firelight” (Millet 6). The relationships between light and place, light and nature, light and climate, light and time, and light and task influence designers in their choices for lighting and help “extend their value beyond mere function” (Millet 6).

Light can reveal much about the place such as the color of the sky, the colors that are cast on the ground, or the colors reflected from water. Many visuals from light signify the place, time of day, or time of year. These light-related experiences depict our rituals which vary from place to place. This variation in light should occur in interiors. Millet states that places can be memorable because of the light. I found it interesting that water creates different moods, and its reflection brings more light into a space. The relationship between light and water reminds me of the many trips I have taken with my friend’s family to Kerr Lake. The lot that they purchased was purposely chosen to face west for sunsets. Our nights usually revolve around the time of the sunset. We will have dinner prepared and eat on the dock before the sunset. While we watch the sunset, everyone sits quietly, marveling at the colors and the silhouettes of the trees. The reflection adds a quality of warmth that changes throughout the year, depending on the season. This experience of light has created many memories and confirms how light denotes more than just a function. It alters how, when, and where we perform a function.

Windows are an important role in the filtration of light which reveals a strong sense of place. The paper-paneled openings in Japanese homes not only protect people from the hot, humid summers but also provide a means of ventilation. Millet mentions that, although they do not ensure noise control, these partitions are a “physical object that represents a psychological barrier” (10). This idea of something acting as a barrier to sound reminds me of the meditation room in the Elliot University Center. The partitions in the room allow light to permeate through the frosted glass yet create a sense of privacy. As with the Japanese partitions, the frosted glass forms a psychological barrier. Along the Netherlands’ canals, houses are positioned in rows for every home to have views of the canal. Windows take up the majority of the wall space on either end of the house to allow as much light in as possible. Italian windows are large which promotes conversation with people on the street. The shutters still allow ventilation when direct sunlight is not necessary. Often, building design fails to consider the importance of light. The function of the space and its occupants reveals a great amount as to what the light quality should be.

Looking at light in nature can inspire the quality of light in interiors. Nature captures many forms of light, patterns, and colors. When designers incorporate these aspects into interior settings, a visual connection occurs, creating memorable experiences. Millet refers to Frank Lloyd Wright and the decisions he made regarding the windows in the Robie House. Wright’s abstracted patterns from nature “introduced in the colors, textures, and shapes of the window glazing is set against the view of nature, so that the barrier between inside and outside seems to dissolve and the two images merge in a phenomenal transparency” (15). Wright also incorporated nature into his electrical lighting of the cabaret at Taliesein West, using stringing lights to remind one of a starry night. Stars evoke movement and mystery, which may explain why they are popular choices for outdoor or nighttime settings. Stars twinkle and this movement correlates with the movement of music, dance or even the fluctuation of voice during conversation. Stringing lights create a more comfortable setting, providing enough light to see yet creating a sense of privacy. This relationship of light with nature can create a deeper connection with the place and promote better function.

Climate affects people’s comfort, culture, and rituals. The amount of light in a room varies depending on the climate. However, light can also transform a space and the levels of comfort. Introducing gold or warmer wood tones can create a more comfortable atmosphere. Not only are the material choices important in various places, but also the ways in which the material is manipulated. In Barcelona, the sunny climate would create much glare if the walls were flat. The use of patterned walls cast shadows reducing the brightness. Light can create much heat in a building, and the direction of the light must be considered. In the Gatewood Studio Arts building, for example, room 204 acquires much heat because it faces south and the parking lot. All the heat from the black pavement emits through the glass but then is trapped, working like a greenhouse. This situation requires screens and energy to keep the space at a comfortable temperature. Understanding the climate can help designers in the choices of light to let in.

The time of day is another consideration for lighting in the design of a building. For example, I have rehearsal for a singing group in a space without windows. When I leave the space, I am always confused as to what time it is. In interior spaces, cues from light are needed to know what time of day it is. We often misuse daylight and rely on electric lighting. “In most industrialized countries of the world, we are used to mixing daylight and electric light, or even depending almost entirely on electric light. There might be windows for views, but we flip the switch when we need to “see” (29). Many tasks determines the quality of light. Famous architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright configured work spaces and its lighting to accommodate the workers. Millet mentions a library is the relationship between the light, book, and reader while the museum focuses on the relationship between the light, the art, and viewer (32).

All these relationships between light and environment affect people. Designers should recognize these relationships and apply them to interiors. Lighting does signify more than a mere function. Daylight and electric lighting are important aspects of our experience in various spaces and should be given more thought than just turning on the switch.

“Lighting Revealing Experience” by Marietta Millet from the book Light Revealing Architecture, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1996.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

bordeaux board

For the last phase of the project and semester, in our same groups from the conceptual model project, we generated a poster depicting the modeling of the Bordeaux house. We used the images of the topography grid from the model as the background for our board. We created a whimsical take on the Bordeaux house which depicts creativity and intrigue. This was a great project to end the semester.

conceptual model

For this portion of the project, I got to work with Carlie, Cassie, and Audra to design a conceptual model of the Bordeaux house, which we rendered in rhino from the previous project. This model was to focus on solids, voids, planes, and context. Because the Bordeaux house emphasizes the land, we chose this as the main feature. We first made a topography map out of cardboard and cut this into a grid of 12 pieces. We then vacuumed formed polystyrene over the cardboard to get a clean, smooth surface. The dark wood contrast with the white giving this model a conceptual way of interpreting the Bordeaux house.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

rendering in rhino

Using a modeling software, Rhinoceros, we were asked to render an icon of modern architecture. I chose Bordeaux House by Rem Koolhaas. Never using rhino before, I am pleased with how much I was able to accomplish.

rendering in illustrator

Using the same wireframe from before, we were asked to render the space using solely illustrator.

Friday, April 29, 2011

WI 10: connections

the one that almost got away......

Looking at where I was at the beginning of this semester to where I am now, I can honestly say that I have never felt more accomplished in this major. During our first class, we wrote down our individual design goals for the semester and also answered questions to see which type of personality we had. At first, I did not think anything of this and saw it as a mere way to introduce the class. However, as the semester has progressed, I have been able to understand why design goals and where our personality fits in as value. On the spectrum, I was the mediator. I tend to want to please everyone and can see both sides of the story. This seems like it would be a great attribute, however, there were times during the semester where I felt my design voice would get lost. There would also be times where being the mediator helped the group move forward.

As far as my design goals, I wanted to communicate my ideas more clearly, know which direction I want to go in design, and learn rhino. Until now, I have not really thought about these design goals; but I now realize that I have accomplished more in this semester than I realized. I think I have grown as a designer, and learned how to balance my natural “people-pleaser self” with a confident person. This has helped me communicate ideas and let others know of my abilities.

Throughout the course of this semester, one lesson that will remain with me is to constantly design. This process should never have a start or finish, but rather a continuous process. For the first phase of Jenga, I thought too much about the design rather than producing any work leaving a project where final deliverables were rushed and not thought out. This became a decreasing problem as the semester continued. I learned that designing and producing work should happen simultaneously and nothing should be left until last minute.

My experience with group work has varied through this semester. At first, I did not know how to balance all the many deliverable with the many floating ideas of other peers and produce work on a timely manner, However, my favorite group experience was Jenga 4.0 where we worked in teams of three again. The first iteration of teams of three was successful, but the second time we were more familiar with how each individual worked and able to create a strong design. Teams of six was not as hectic of a transition than thought. We actually produced great work where many of our design voices were seen. However, I felt like my voice was heard more in teams of three. The final phase of Jenga was intense with a team of 12 people. Though, I focused my attention on interior components, I felt the design was never truly accomplished. In teams of 12, it was difficult to please every person, and the design did not move along. In the future, I will remember that teams of three are effective. Teams change and this requires a flexibility from each person to ensure a job well done.

Looking at all the sheets of paper from this semester, there have been many opportunities to grow as a writer. As I have mentioned before, I think writing often gets overlooked and not given as much thought. I think writing is an important aspect of design. Many times our writing clarifies our work. My favorite writing assignment was when we wrote the narrative of our space. This was a whole new process for me but moved my design along. I think brainstorming ideas and writing about design can help it seem more real rather than just a thought.

As a designer, my skills in presentation have most definitely improved. My digital work has come a long way from the sloppy cardboard models I turned in for Jenga 1.0. Though I am not proud of the work I turned in at the beginning, it is exciting to see how much I can accomplish in the course of one semester. Through critiques and cross training, I have acquired many new skills. I feel confident moving forward in this major as a third year student. I think my design voice still yields to community design, but I am most rewarded by all the valuable knowledge and experiences from this semester. I may have been the one who almost got away but I have grown as a designer and a person.