(Online) – On 20th of August 2021 the online course L4H Course of Health Research for Lighting Design was officially launched. It was developed by a consortium of six partner-universities from around the world as a part of the Erasmus + Strategic Partnership grant programme. This includes Thomas Jefferson University (USA), University of Wolverhampton (UK), Aalborg University (Denmark), Hochschule Wismar (Germany), KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden) and ITMO University (Russia).
The course consists of five educational modules. It contains multiple concepts, tools, and results of health-related research to inform lighting design. Students are exposed to knowledge and research related to lighting and health in different fields of physiology and psychology. They are also guided to learn how to conduct their own evaluation and data collection to enable lighting designs that support health and wellbeing. Students will also learn how to interpret the necessary measurements.
Module One introduces the topic and addresses the question of why health should be considered as a factor in lighting. Students will investigate aspects such as the physics of light and the physiology of vision, and the impact of light on the human body. The module also includes a short history of light and health.
Module Two reviews the basics of lighting and aspects of health related to lighting. This involves the role of daylight in architecture, daylight’s impact on health, and, in general, the neuroendocrine, neurobehavioral, and circadian effects of light on the human body. Students will also explore the psychology of light and additional topics such as glare and flicker are covered.
Module Three is dedicated to software, measuring devices, and evaluation tools. Metrics are provided that can be used to evaluate the physiological impact of lighting. The module also covers different software and measurement tools. Some assessment techniques for subjective impressions of a space are presented. At the end of the module there is a virtual tour of the Jefferson Research Lab.
Module Four provides an overview of standards and good practices. Metrics for daylight evaluations are presented, and students will be introduced to “Manchester Recommendations” for healthy daytime, evening, and nighttime indoor light exposure. Moreover, design integrations are discussed that employ measurements and design criteria for physiological impact and visual perception.
In Module Five, there are examples of applications and case studies from research and practice. Students will be provided with project examples from workspaces, educational, and healthcare environments, and they will be shown specialty applications (e.g., space travel, users with autism). Concepts of spectral modelling for light and health considerations, double dynamic lighting, biophilia, and information on therapeutic lighting applications will also be supplied.
Prior to the course launch, there was a conference organised by the consortium members. Those who joined the conference were lecturers, students, and professional designers. All experts agreed that the course was the result of a successful collaboration of representatives from different disciplines and different backgrounds.
Asst. Prof. Dr. Karolina Zielinska-Dabkowska from the Hochschule Wismar (Germany): “The topic of light and health is a very complex one, especially with recent medical and biological discoveries. Therefore, it’s essential that different groups collaborate in order to overcome the difficulty of putting research into practice. This collaboration requires the involvement of scientists, academics, lighting professionals, and representatives of the lighting industry. The proposed approach can help identify the gaps and then be used to find solutions to resolve those gaps.”
With lighting design as a profession developing very fast as new approaches and technology are applied, this course makes a contribution to this evolving field. Assoc. Prof. Lyn Godley, from the Thomas Jefferson University (USA) explained: “The field of lighting design has changed dramatically over the last 10 years, and it has become much more diverse in terms of what it entails regarding science, and visual and non-visual effects. For all of us working within the consortium, it’s been remarkable to team with the researchers, so that we have a dialogue together rather than separately”.
When exploring the topic of light and health it is important to understand that the numerous discussed issues extend beyond design and architecture. Asst. Prof. Dr. Georgios Triantafyllidis from the Aalborg University (Denmark) said: “10 years ago, everything was much simpler because it was only about daylight or engineering for artificial lighting, but now everything has been mixed with biology, architecture, engineering, and technology. The students are asked to understand everything, which is very difficult. That’s why I think this project, and this online course can contribute to organising and providing easy-to-understand knowledge to everybody: students, practitioners, and anyone who is a light enthusiast. Thus, we can all better understand how light works in regard to health”.
Prof. Michael F. Rohde from the Hochschule Wismar (Germany) emphasized: “I think this Erasmus + project from the EU is pointing in the right direction, and distributing this information through the website is a really good idea. It is important that we share this knowledge with all those who are interested on an international level. I think in the future, with the help of this course, students, clients, light designers, and manufacturers will comprehend how a modern, intelligent lighting concept should be developed in healthcare units or hospitals”.
The project has been extremely productive, however the field of light and health is very broad so the topic needs to be explored even further. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ute Besenecker from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), (Sweden) explained: “I do think that this project provides a great starting point to bridge knowledge from research and design applications, yet it still needs to be developed to more fully integrate it.”
Head of the international Master’s program “Lighting design” from the ITMO University, Natalya Bystryantseva observed: “The L4H project appeared as a response to a global demand of the lighting industry in the development of knowledge, skills and competence for young specialists. This demonstrates that the profession of lighting designer is becoming more significant and demanding regarding the quality of lighting. Scientific and practical experience of the partners, and work with different types of spaces, have helped to specify the most relevant questions that researchers have nowadays. In the future, this course will also help enhance and systemise the knowledge of young students and graduates when they write their master’s and postgraduate theses”.
The L4H project has highlighted the importance of light and health not only for scientists and practitioners, but also for those who use lighting in their homes, working environments, and in hospitals and healthcare facilities etc. Prof. Paul Hampton from the University of Wolverhampton (UK) added: “I would also suggest that a lot of the work and intelligence we have gathered here should be shared with clients, so that clients can better understand the impacts lighting can have. This might influence them to have lighting designers involved earlier in the design stage. I think we have to move away from the attitude that lighting is something to consider later, only if there’s a little money left, whereas, it needs to be at the forefront of the design”.
The online course is available on the official site of the project (https://www.light4health.net/) under the “L4H Online Course” tab. All course content is available for open-access use either in part or in its entirety, and free for everybody interested in the field, with proper crediting: Copyright © Light4Health 2021. For educational use only. Not for Commercial Use. Available to third parties under Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivatives) 4.0 Public License.
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