Illuminating Preference: Personalized Lighting for Workplace Tasks Informed through Choice and Activity

Advisor: Prof. Christoph Reinhart
Readers: Ben Fry, Lecturer; Prof. Arvind Satyanarayan, EECS

The advent of personal mobile devices and ubiquitous access to new knowledge, our lifestyles have changed drastically over the past years. This technological ability has made spaces more inclined to become occupied by people who are engaging in a variety of activities. Activities once constrained by architectural space can now be pursued everywhere, if personalized comfort is provided. A good example might be during the warmer seasons, when people are shifting their workplace temporarily to a park, where a tree is providing good shading, and favourable indirect light. Architectural comfort is designed according to the assumption that all inhabitants will have similar needs and therefore imposes a generalized model to the inhabitants whose comfort might be different. In workplaces, such lack of personalized control, can lead to deficiencies in performance and lack of adequate lighting in extreme cases can be the cause for sickness. This does not render the architecture obsolete, but asks for new paradigms in the search of personal comfort in lighting. Two approaches are suggested: The first approach activates the space through equipping the environment with more sensors to provide the adequate control over personalized lighting. The second approach suggests a less intrusive method, in which the user is informed through the environment and of the already existing lighting conditions it provides. The most suitable lighting condition for a task might already exist right around the corner, but the user might simply not be aware of it. Through introducing a different way on how to look at architecture and personalized illumination, I hope to shed some light on the following questions: Can technology inform a more fluid use of architectural spaces and their qualities? How well can light situations be recorded and reproduced? Through learning personal preference, can lighting comfort be explored in the environment? Could the gathered be used as a tool to inform decision-making in future architectural designs?