Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Impact of Light on Health

        Lighting plays a very important role in the lives of human beings and our happiness and well-being. Based on the readings it seems as though we have a set schedule about what lighting we can be exposed to at what time of day and if that schedule is tampered with it can have damaging effects on our health. However, though good design it is possible to minimize these harmful effects by considering site planning, building orientation, architectural openings, shading and screening systems, and electrical lighting systems. There should be some kind of system in order to help with the health issues that people who work night shifts face because they are at work all night and then sleep during the day, which damages their circadian rhythm. I think that close attention should be paid to both the natural lighting entering a space as well as the artificial light within the space because they are both equally important to our well-being. Research has shown that the interruption to our circadian rhythm is not only harmful to our sleep but has also been found to contribute to a number of diseases. It has been proven that blue emitting lights have the ability to keep us more awake and alert throughout the day by suppressing the production of melatonin, which is the chemical in our brain that makes us sleepy. The only downside to this is that if you are staying up late with the lights on you are damaging your circadian rhythm by delaying the production of melatonin that would usually be released and make you go to sleep at that time. Being exposed to these lights late at night has been shown to cause weight gain and breast cancer. Hopefully we can find a health balance to keep us safer, especially in this day and age.  

Light Revealing Experience

    Light affects how we see things, how we experience things, and how we feel about spaces and places. I grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina where the springs are clear and colorful, the summers are bright and humid, the fall is cloudy and crisp, and the winters are cold and gloomy. When I was younger our house was surrounded by a lot of trees that the light would filter though and create spotlights on the ground that would dance in the breeze. In the winter after all of the leaves fell away all that was left was the skeleton-like shadows of the trees and you could see across the landscape better without the leaves to get in the way. However, eventually the trees started to be cut down and new developments started going up and although the trees remain the affects are not quite as drastic as they once were.
       As I grew older I developed a love for travel and the experiences that new places had to offer. I’ve traveled to almost all of the 50 United States, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean and every place has its own feel and will leave you with a unique experience. In the Caribbean and Mexico the bright sun reflects off the water and the sand while there is little opportunity for shade with the sparsely placed palm trees. In Alaska the sky can be overcast and rainy with only the reflection of the gray clouds on the water and then on sunny days the sun glimmers on the water, the glaciers, and though the trees. While visiting my brother in the Great Smoky Mountains the mornings were foggy and gray and gave the light and the air a hazy appearance. When I traveled to San Francisco, California the cool, clear climate made the feel of the city cheery and exciting. Then there were places out west like Arizona where the air was so hot and humid and it made the landscape seem so bright it was hard to look at without sunglasses or squinting.
       One thing that I have noticed is that the more temperature comfortable climates seemed to have just the right amount of light to make the landscapes seem clear and colorful. Whereas the places where it was too cold or too hot and humid often the light was either too much to where it was hard to bear the sunlight or not enough to where you felt sleepy from lack of serotonin. Another thing that I have noticed over the years is I much prefer natural light over artificial light. In order to feel comfortable in a place or space I always need at least some natural sunlight or I start getting uncomfortable or just sleepy. So it’s safe to say I could probably never live in Alaska in the winter where the sun does not rise for thirty days or in a city where there is a lot of dreary cloudy weather. I think that having clear, pleasant, sunny weather makes any experience more comfortable and more fun. 

Class Exercise: John Flynn's Psychological Aspects of Lighting - A Scavenger Hunt

UNCG Library Tower
This space has very dimly lit with small amounts of natural light that makes this space feel tense and unpleasant. There is uniform, overhead, dim, artificial lighting and some peripheral natural lighting. The problems with the dim lighting in this space are accentuated by what natural lighting is there by creating a lot of high contrast. This natural light really exposes the surfaces that it touches and over powers what little artificial light there is in the space. It also creates stark shadows in the areas that neither lighting really reaches. I think that this combination of the small amount of natural light combined with the dim, patterned, artificial lighting that makes this space feel so uncomfortable.

EUC/Library Tunnel
This space's lighting gives it a relaxed and pleasant feel. The overhead, non-uniform, bright artificial lighting as well as a lot of bright illuminating natural light. With so much light from both artificial and natural sources this space is very well lit and there is a lot of lighting but not to the point where it becomes overbearing. The darker colors used in this space also help to allow the space to be brighter without looking washed out. The lighting in this space is comfortable enough that you would be able to read, do homework, or just relax comfortably in this space.