Power of light

Light is a symbol of life and well being, without it nothing exists. It brings in sunshine for civilians to be able to see and enlighten their mood. For centuries, natural light has been a substantial asset in architecture. It also may be used to create shadows to incorporate with calendars, three dimensionality, boundaries, and more. It has always been an important part of cathedrals in history. Architecture incorporates natural light into buildings for all of these purposes. But one of the most impactful effects it brings amongst humans is their mood and health. Natural light affects people’s behaviors because of the different atmosphere and environment it promotes, as it is proven to cheer people up.
Natural light is known to create a healthy and content environment when working in a building. According to Wymelenberg, scientists of the Lighting Research Center have reported that day lit environments increase occupant productivity and comfort (Wyemelenberg 1). It benefits for people to adapt to a working environment and focus as opposed to being in a closed space with only artificial lighting which is proven to be a distraction and depress people’s moods and motivations. Closed spaces create an imprisonment and uncomfortable atmosphere. Being exposed to the outdoors creates a better working style. Sky lighting, which is incorporating windows in the ceiling and make it visible to see the sky, have been proven by a 1999 study “Sky lighting and Retail Sales…” to improve retail sales (Wymelenberg 1). Sky lighting is a very popular way of bringing natural light in, as it also gives a great view to the sky, which can help enlighten people.
Many hospitals and museums also encompass sky lighting as it makes their patients comfortable, creates a pleasing experience, and affects their health positively. “Clinics and hospitals were particularly designed to take advantage of natural light because it was thought that sunlight could heal”(Hutchinson 3). Natural light can be just as effective and essential as ventilation is. According to the Department of Architecture of the National University of Malaysia, it helps to improve health and psychological reactions (National University of Malaysia 4). It also provides a source of vitamin D, which is extremely necessary because many people spend most of their time indoors out of sunlight and if they don’t get enough exposure it can later on affect their bones. Exposure to natural light has been proven to lower blood pressure, raise body temperature, lessen sleepiness, and motivate people (Sorenson 5). Research also proves that exposure makes its patients spend less time at the hospital than those located in darker confined spaces, which can affect their immune system (Nature Bright 6). This is common because when patients are in dark confined spaces trying to heal, it hinders their healing process and increases stress levels. Also, it improves up to twenty two percent of its patients to not necessarily need more pain medications (Nature Bright 6). Many people suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) due to lack of exposure to natural light (Phillips 8).
Day lighting in schools have also been shown to improve performance. According to another 1999 study “Day lighting in Schools: An investigation into the relationship between day lighting and human performance,” it has shown improvements among test scores by more than ten percent in classes with increases natural light (Wymelenberg 1). It benefits to create a better learning environment because depending on your surroundings; it can affect your ability to achieve certain objectives. To be in an area that is enclosed with only artificial lighting is very uncomfortable and unfamiliar, when people are more familiar with their surroundings it helps to calm there nerves, relax, and focus. At least three hours of exposure to daylight is shown to decrease stress levels immensely and improve mental health (National University of Malaysia 4).
Many buildings that do not have many windows for natural light use artificial lighting instead, which is a necessity during the night but too much exposure can be negative to health. Artificial lighting is a concern because, first and foremost, it does not provide vitamin D or the type of light we are used to, which brings no health benefits at all. Too much exposure to artificial lighting can also be harmful to both skin and eyes. It can also include pro-inflammatory activation in the immune system, muscle decrease, and can show early signs of osteoporosis. A massive amount to exposure of artificial lighting can have a negative effect on health (CTV 7). It’s more intelligent for construction workers and architects to include many windows not just for sunlight but also for exposure to the outdoors and the green landscape, so that it is a more open and familiar setting. If workers are using artificial light while having windows in their office during daylight hours, it doesn’t only add to the longevity of being exposed to artificial lighting but it also increases relative costs on lighting (Phillips 8). Since people use artificial lighting during the night hours, they should not use it during day light hours so they wont have to be charged for that too.
Incorporating natural light into architecture is also a task. For natural lighting there are different methods and calculations on how architects plan. According to, there are two methods that are applied. One method, which is referred to as Artificial Sky brings great results such as, “ greater uniformity of lighting levels, reduction of glare into offices adjacent to the street, excessive heat loss in summer…” (Phillips 8). The other method, which is called Computer Modeling, creates a well-fit space to work or be in (Phillips 8). It also requires the position of the structure, because depending on exactly where it may be located can also determine how long and how much natural light will be entering the building. For example, Stonehenge was mainly built in that certain area to get a good axial hit from the sunlight to form shadows on what was probably used as an ancient calendar or something similar.
Natural light is used for enhancement, human behavior, architectural principles, and much more which is what makes it extremely vital in architecture. Even though not every structure or building may include available sources of natural light, every architect should make it mandatory for schools, hospitals, homes, and many more buildings to feature it. Lack of natural light can be the reason why some people may not be buoyant to attend their jobs, why children may be drowsy or filled with boredom during lectures, or even why it may take a patient longer to heal than one exposed to sunlight. All of these issues are very important and can really defect a person emotionally and can result or worsen a depression that someone can be suffering. It is to the architect and developers to make sure that they create a building that is not only astonishing but that is also safe and beneficial to the people to be in.

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