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Recommended reading – books to look out for at PLDC in Rome

This year, the VIA team has once again come up with a selected list of books for recommended reading. They will be available at PLDC in Rome for you to take a look at. Some of these books will be available for purchase for the first time at PLDC.

See the light free“See the Light” by Svante Pettersson, the experienced Swedish lighting expert, has gained substantial popularity over the last few months. The generously illustrated book depicts, from a Scandinavian viewpoint, how light works and how to differentiate between lighting solutions. “See the Light” is especially valuable for all those who like to see the work that they and other like-minded individuals perform daily confirmed in book form. “See the Light” is a standard work, a highly inspirational book about light, the philosophy of light and the art of getting to know your visual sense, which in the end boils down to common sense. A detailed critique can be found here.


Buch von ChristopherThe complement to Svante Pettersson’s book is the latest work by Christopher Cuttle. From its title: “Lighting design: a perception-based approach”, it appears to be a book about a specific design approach. Correct, although all the perception-related information is scientifically proven in numbers before the design concept is realised. Christopher Cuttle always manages to unlock yet another part of the true world of lighting design. A detailed critique can be found here.





light-shadow_01Aleksandra Stratimirovic is active in the overlap between lighting design and light art. Together with Sandra Praun, she has published a book that makes this overlap the core of the work, even rendering it visible in the way the book itself is designed and presented. “You say Light – I think Shadow” is a collection of comments and statements from leading architects, designers, artists and other key figures who have recognised light as being a central part of their lives and wish to share this with others. At the same time, the work itself is a huge compliment to ‘the printed book’ as a medium, and is informative and inspiring throughout. A detailed critique can be found here.

Modeling Daylight englishA new book, which will be presented at PLDC for the first time, incorporates discussion and a collection of experimental studies on the topic of daylight. Giovanni Traverso has put together a practical manual based on his own perception of the topic plus a series of studies carried out by students which take a close look at a creative approach to designing with daylight. “Modelling Daylight” is designed to promote discussion on the purposeful use of daylight. It is an impressive documentation of the creative power daylight can have in architecture – an inspiration and practical manual in one. The principles of daylight design are presented clearly and in a well-structured way, and examples shown that enable a practical approach to follow on from the theoretical fundamentals. A detailed critique can be found here.



All books amoung others can also be purchaised through the VIA shop here.

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Modeling Daylight

Inspired by daylight – A book on experimental creative use of daylight
A critique by Joachim Ritter

Modeling Daylight englishThe apparent reason for so little daylight being used as a design element in architecture is that a large number of designers lack the know-how and skills to handle it. Their creativity, you might say, does not go beyond the rectangular window opening. One way or the other, every room looks more or less the same: square. You feel you are trapped in a box, although there are enough windows to escape through… Thinking out of the box is (literally) becoming increasingly more difficult. And there is not much in the way of literature when it comes to how natural light can be used as a design element in an architectural space. New requirements related to energy savings and what planners tend to perceive as the ‘enforced use of daylight’ has put us in a situation where we can no longer make out what is light and what is architecture, because everything is simply overly bright.

Inspiration is called for. This is where the book “Modelling Daylight” by the Italian architect and lighting designer Giovanni Traverso comes in. As the initiator and head of the summer course entitled Daylight Thinking that took place in Vicenza/I in 2012, he and his students created a series of models to demonstrate that through daylight interior spaces can gain a quality that has nothing to do with rectangular openings set in the facade. Daylight can become the main feature in a space, if the designer is able to handle it creatively.

The manual aims to raise awareness and make readers sensitive to the idea that light can become a fundamental element in architectural design, capable of positively modifying the experience of the user.

The book motivates and encourages readers to return to the purposeful use of daylight. But it is also a manual containing helpful references and feasible approaches, and in that sense goes beyond the purely experimental. Time and again when reading the book, one is inclined to reconsider one’s own philosophy of natural light and place more importance on the use of daylight in architecture on an everyday basis. Which is as much as to say that this is not a book that will simply added to the bookshelf and disappear forever, but always be within reach as a source of reference. It is not a sequel to grand works such as William Lam’s “Sunlighting as Formgiver for Architecture”, but defines a new lighting design quality that is achievable through daylight.

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With this book, Giovanni Traverso has succeeded in providing convincing material on the purposeful application of daylight. The information, data and reports on the studies are presented in a clear, well-structured manner. His ideas on daylight design and commitment to spreading the educational word come across confidently and are easy to follow. “Modelling Daylight” is sure to be more than just an inspiration to those who read it.

Giovanni TraversoAbout the author
Giovanni Traverso is an architect and lighting designer, based in Vicenza/I. In 1996, together with Paola Vighy, he co-founded Traverso-Vighy Architetti studio, specialising in sustainable architecture and experimental projects related to the application of light. He is Senior Lecturer at ‘VIA”, UFL and has also taught in the MSc programme in Lighting Design at IUAV University in Venice. In July 2012, he headed the international summer course ‘Daylight Thinking’, UFL.



Date of release: 28.10.2015 at PLDC in Rome
Italian  version: ISBN 978-3-9811940-4-3
English  version: ISBN 978-3-9811940-5-0
German version:  ISBN 978-3-9811940-6-7
Price: € 24.90

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Learning from Neil Harbisson

indexLearning from someone who experiences vision differently

by Joachim Ritter

We all know what it means to be colour-blind. At least, we think we do.

A person who is “colour-blind” is not able to see colours. Well, that’s a simple way of putting it. If we take a closer look at this colour vision deficiency, we learn that there are two kinds of “colour blindness”, or to be more exact partial colour blindness (the difficulty in distinguishing between red and green, or blue and yellow) and total colour blindness. In general, we tend to describe people who cannot distinguish between red and green as being “colour-blind”. That is not correct, however. On the one hand, as a rule red-green colour blindness is only partial colour blindness and not total colour blindness, and on the other hand it means only two of the three colour receptors in the eye are defective.

images Given that only five to nine per cent of the male population is known to suffer from red-green colour blindness, we can safely say that we tend to use the term “colour blindness” wrongly. Medically speaking, real “colour blindness” (or to use the Latin term, “achromatopsia”) actually occurs very seldom. In these cases the person concerned is really not able to see any colours at all. Which means that the person’s vision has to rely on the light-dark receptors. True colour blindness frequently leads to a noticeable deterioration in the person’s vision overall.

Neil Harbisson is colour-blind – 100 per cent. He has not been able to see colours since the day he was born. He does not know what a red heart means or a blue ocean or green bread. He does not know these things and never has. But he can hear colours. At the age of 21 he had a probe implanted in his brain. A head-mounted antenna senses the colours directly in front of him and converts them in real-time into sound waves through bone conduction. The first impression we get of Neil Harbisson is that he looks like some kind of alien, with an antenna perched on the top of his head.

IDNeil Harbisson perceives his surroundings quite differently from the majority of people on this planet. He has never experienced differentiating between white people and black people. Judging by the sounds his brain receives skin colour is only evident in different shades of orange. Even if you initially regard the physical defect Neil lives with as a disadvantage, this is the point where you can say that he has a clear advantage over all other people: he knows that there is no basic difference in skin colour itself; it is only a matter of colour intensity. Which is naturally also evident within the groups of so-called “white” or “black” people.

You can discover more about Neil Harbisson and what other advantages he has gained through his special situation and how he decided to cope with it at PLDC, where he will be giving a presentation. It is not every day that you can enjoy such an inspirational experience.

And by the way: if you try to talk to Neil Harbisson about technical lighting standards, it just brings a smile to his lips.

Neil Harbisson is presenting at PLDC on Saturday at 10.15

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Walking the fine line…

… between enhancing or manipulating with light?

by Joachim Ritter

Modern lighting design is becoming more complex. That is good news. It acknowledges the importance of light and its effect on architecture, human beings, flora and fauna. It actually makes no difference to how light impacts human beings. That applies, the same as ever. In a few years’ time people will be questioning how it was ever possible to design lighting for over a century not knowing or believing that light has an effect on human beings. However, digital technology now gives us the opportunity to design better and healthier lighting.

Having that opportunity does not mean that we have the skills to implement it. In that respect, good lighting designers who were leaders in the field 30 years ago and may well be still practising today need to be open to acquiring this new know-how. Thirty years ago it may have sufficed to do great design work based on passion and commitment – and the designs were generally regarded as being good. But those same designs today would probably often be assessed differently. The ability to be a lighting designer is no longer a gift bestowed on you at birth. It is now a discipline which involves design issues being subject to rules and regulations. What designers out there currently dispose over all the required know-how?

The good news is: if this is recognised by society as a whole, it must mean that there are indeed specialists who have acquired the knowledge and skills required to design lighting. Specialists who deserve to be recognised as such. In other words: we have never been closer to gaining recognition for the profession than we are today. And every day means one step further towards this goal!

Biophilic Lighting Design-1

Nature as the “rhythm giver” in architecture.

Biophilic Lighting Design-2

A patient’s room can be lit according to the rhythm of daylight.

We know that we can enhance people’s feeling of well-being through purposefully designed lighting, lighting that can positively affect human beings physically and mentally. And yet every opportunity also incorporates a hidden risk. At what point does the impact light can have cease to support human behaviour and begin to manipulate? Doping is quite rightly frowned upon in the sporting world, but no one has yet given any thought to using light as a means of doping. Why not? After all, light is able to influence and change our natural bio-rhythms. In the meantime we know that this can be detrimental to our health. We know we can increase schoolchildren’s ability to concentrate using light, although we also all know that many children are not able to concentrate to the full between 8 am and 9 am – because of their natural bio-rhythm. We manipulate shift workers by subjecting them to light levels during the night in order to maintain their productivity, even though we are aware of the fact that night shifts – or simulated day shift conditions at night – can influence the development of cancer. And we talk quite openly about the power of light to positively influence people’s buying behaviour in order to increase sales, although we do not really need many of the items that are so attractively displayed, and purchasing more only contributes towards aggravating environmental issues. We create fascinating lighting installations in shopping malls although we have grown up in natural forests which have shaped our evolution.

I am not saying that we should not apply light to an optimum. I am also not saying that we should not pursue the Human Centric Lighting path when designing lighting. But I do believe that we should be very clear about the current situation and continue to reflect on the power the lighting designer can have if he/she is able to take advantage of all the opportunities that science is putting on our plate when it comes to light.

Because if we are aware of the responsibility we bear, then every well designed shop lighting solution has the right to be realised – to enhance the leisure aspect and experience factor of shopping – the same as any lighting scheme designed to support our circadian rhythm in compliance with our natural environment.

With the knowledge we are gaining about the impact of light, and the technical possibilities that are now readily available, we are walking a very fine line between supporting and manipulating human existence.

This, at any rate, is the insight we gathered as an editorial team while working on the latest issue of the PLD no 98. Or at least these are the thoughts which will hopefully lead us to developing more insight in future. But definitely it is a topic which will be raised more and more, and for sure at PLDC 2015 in Rome.

Light Garden for Blog

Fun lighting in a shopping centre in Lima. Lighting idea and concept: Nicholas Cheung and Claudia Paz

Zumtobel - Gerry Weber (1) nachher_after

Limbic lighting in a Gerry Weber store after redesign. Photo: Zumtobel

Shop, Beleuchtung, Lichtsyteme Lichtsteuerung

Limbic lighting in a Gerry Weber store before redesign. Photo: Zumtobel

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Warm dimming

Lighting management: a key topic in the lighting world in future

When halogen and other incandescent lamps are dimmed they also invariably change colour to a warmer colour temperature – known as ‘warm dimming’ or ‘dim to warm’.

This phenomenon is now considered by many as desirable in numerous applications. These include the hospitality and residential sectors, covering hotels, restaurants and private homes in particular, where the purpose of dimming is typically to change the ambience to something that is warmer and ‘cosier’. Clearly a warmer colour temperature will further enhance this effect.

The solution which Reggiani proposes is to combine two chips in the ‘chip-on-board’ LED so that together these can span a lumen package spectrum capable of providing the maximum designed output when required, while also being able to reproduce the same diffused ambient lighting naturally created when dimming incandescent light sources.

In this arrangement, the power source is a single driver that gradually reduces the amperage input according to the light output desired. As the power to the chips is reduced the temperature mix of their individually fixed colour temperatures is automatically balanced. A gradually decreasing sliding scale, starting from high and ending at the lower of the two maximum and minimum values, coincides exactly with the combined degrees of light output and dimming selected.

This technology can offer a dimming range from 100 per cent down to ten per cent with a very smooth colour temperature transition from a maximum of 3000 K to a minimum of 2000 K. Crucially high lumen maintenance is achieved throughout the warranty period of the light source (typically five years).

While the primary purpose of developing such a twin-chip lamp has been to meet the warm dimming needs of the hospitality and residential sectors, the light source also delivers other very worthwhile benefits in terms of both energy performance and lamp life.

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