No. 151 . 18 June 2003 
ArchitectureWeek
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Lightfair 2003

by Brian Libby

Le Corbusier said that architecture's forms are revealed in light. Seeking to hone their skills in the art and science of how electric and natural light are projected, splashed, and cast onto and into buildings, thousands of architects, engineers, and lighting designers attended the 14th annual Lightfair International trade show and conference in New York in May 2003.

There are many ways in which light influences how we perceive and use space: neurobiological, environmental, and psychological. At one of Lightfair's many educational sessions, Parsons School of Design professors Mark Sussman and Linnaea Tillett explained this in their presentaion, "Light, Perception and Culture."

Sussman said: "Our point of view is it's very hard to isolate lighting as a design element. We want to give [students] and working professionals the sense that you have to consider all of the senses when you think about light, and you have to think of all the surfaces in a space. You have to think of all of the human factors, whether it's a park or a street or a building."

In teaching lighting design, Sussman and Tillett note that the effect of light on people goes beyond vision. For instance, our skin is affected by daylight, which influences circadian rhythms, also known as the biological clock. This in turn affects how the body relates to the experiences of time and space. Sussman said: "This seems fairly obvious from the point of view of architecture, but we find that in lighting, it's not typical in the training."   >>>

 

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