Lighting Supports Our Rhythms

How can lighting design support your circadian rhythm? Our bodies operate on a 24 hour clock, shifting between periods of wakefulness and sleep set by an alerting signal which responds to our daily light intake. At first, only Earth’s rotation determined our light exposure. Then the discovery of fire sparked centuries of lighting innovation leading to the present where we have continuous access to lighting of varying intensity and color. But getting the wrong light at the wrong time can cause significant shifts to our internal clocks, or circadian rhythms.

At the Canada Green Building Council’s Building Lasting Change 2016, Ed Clark and Marty Brennan discussed circadian design techniques and ZGF’s new open-source lighting design tool that supports greater health, well being, and healing.


Virtual Reality Hackathon

ZGF’s Simon Manning and Dane Stokes helped design Revolvr—a virtual reality spatial puzzle—that took Gold for Interaction Design at the VR Hackathon in Seattle. Simon and Dane were inspired by “360 photo-spheres and how they could be interacted with in an immersive 3D environment. This led us to think about traditional jigsaw puzzles and how we could manipulate them in new ways.” You can play Revolvr Fall 2016, when it’s scheduled for public release. Click here to check out this video about the game, which tests and strengthens spatial reasoning.


ZGF Panel Featured in Metropolis Think Tank Series

On October 14, 2015, Metropolis magazine publisher and editor-in-chief Susan S. Szenasy led a panel at ZGF’s Seattle office as part of the Metropolis Think Tank series discussing the benefits of circadian lighting strategies for workplace and health care facilities. An edited transcript of the conversation is now available at the Point of View section of the Metropolis website.

The panel featured ZGF designers Mark Gesinger and Kari Thorsen alongside Lisa Reitzes and Susan Geiduschek of ZGF client Seattle Children’s Hospital, as well as ZGF research collaborators Dr. Judith Heerwagen of the U.S. General Services Administration and Dr. Mehlika Inanici of the University of Washington. The presentation also included ZGF designer Ed Clark and architect Marty Brennan, who discussed their circadian research and the application of Lark, an open source software plug-in collaboratively designed by the UW and ZGF. The program allows designers to control the color and intensity of light from spectral data to inform environmental design that supports inhabitants’ healthy circadian rhythms. Studies show that circadian health improves productivity, increases rates of healing, and suppots overall well being.


ZGF and the University of Washington Present Research on Circadian Lighting at 2015 IBPSA Conference

In December 2015, ZGF architect Marty Brennan and The University of Washington’s Dr. Mehlika Inanici traveled to Hyderabad, India to present their paper, co-authored with ZGF designer Ed Clark, at the 2015 International Building Performance Simulation Association (IBPSA) Conference. The paper “Spectral Lighting Simulations: Computing Circadian Light” discusses the principles of defining and analyzing circadian light and how good design can support building inhabitants’ healthy circadian rhythms. Healthy circadian function can actively improve well-being, overall health, rates of healing and workplace productivity. Their paper’s abstract offers further detail:

“Recent studies have demonstrated that the spectral content of light at typical interior daylight levels affects human circadian rhythms. Lighting simulation tools are developed, used, and validated mainly for computing the visual aspects of lighting. This paper demonstrates utilization of a multi-spectral simulation method that can be employed to design and analyze circadian lighting in built environments. The methodology is context-based, allowing the researchers and designers to consider local skies, exterior context, glazing optics, surface materials, interior design, and viewer location.”

The paper, now available online, also presents the benefits of Lark Spectral Lighting, an open source software plug-in collaboratively authored by ZGF and the University of Washington. Lark is a tool that helps architects and designers create spaces that actively support circadian rhythms by computing circadian light as part of the design process. For a quick overview on Lark and circadian lighting check out this video.


Circadian Light Analysis—Design Tools to Support a New Lighting Design Paradigm

Lark Spectral Lighting, a collaboration between ZGF and the University of Washington, is a new plugin for Grasshopper that helps architects, lighting designers, and researchers investigate circadian light metrics within a daylighting workflow. Lark allows designers to define the color of skies, glazing, and building materials based on spectral data. Furthermore, luminance renderings and irradiance data can be used to analyze the relative impact of design options on the non-visual, circadian system. This open source tool enables architects to optimize lighting, materiality, and view based on human circadian response metrics for improved sleep, stress management, alertness and productivity.

At the 14th International Conference of International Building Performance Simulation Association in Hyderabad, India, Dr. Mehlika Inanici and ZGF Architect Martin Brennan presented a research paper co-written with ZGF Architect Ed Clark, titled Spectral Daylighting Simulations: Computing Circadian Light.