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2023  Graduate Winner

Université Laval


Biophilic light and colour design in extreme latitudes: conciliating northern occupants’ well-being through photobiological responsive indoor ambiances

Northern occupants’ well-being depends on various factors, including the built environment and its elements such as light and colour. The climatic conditions and photoperiod of extreme latitudes force architects to apply different methods to improve indoor environmental quality, in which biophilic design has shown excellent benefits as it seeks to connect individuals with nature through different building strategies. Light and colour highlight within the different strategies because the light stimuli penetrate the eye affecting perceptual and photobiological dimensions of the human being, such as the circadian clock synchronization. This project therefore investigates the effects of daylight, artificial lighting and colour on biophilic architecture in northern regions with the aim of responding to human lighting needs that can be reflected in environmental satisfaction. This research combines analogical (reduced scale models) and numerical methods (HDR imaging method and photometric calibration) that deliver high accuracy of lighting conditions and simulate what the human eye perceives. The results show that different colour configurations under one type of lighting can cause similar light intensity level effects, whether for morning or evening, which opens up the possibility of using colour to improve indoor environment conditions for northern occupants. Analyses of ambiance descriptors related to colour properties and intensity contrast demonstrate that spaces can be adapted and exhibit distinct qualities that could be then reflected on people's subjective impressions. The research emphasizes the benefits of biophilic daylight, electric lighting, and colour which provide a multifunctional character to adaptable scenarios according to the community aspirations and needs in the North.

Carolina Espinoza-Sanhueza is a doctoral candidate in architecture at Université Laval. Her doctoral research focuses on the occupants’ photobiological and perceptual effects of light, colour and materials for biophilic architecture in northern latitudes. She is also interested in the development of pedagogical tools to improve the decision-making process in early-design stages in relation light and colour.

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