Experts at Zumtobel reveal how lighting design impacts human behaviour

Experts at Zumtobel reveal how lighting design impacts human behaviour

Active Light, an approach by Zumtobel, uses lighting as a role model that distinguishes four dimensions: Intensity, direction, colour and time to create human-centric spaces

The vertical installation of the Slotlight II in the ceilings of the ADIC building accentuates a central design element of the architecture.
The vertical installation of the Slotlight II in the ceilings of the ADIC building accentuates a central design element of the architecture.

What is that element which can be measured and quantified, but can’t be seen; it affects our mood and productivity; it is a source of creativity, but you can’t hold in your hand? We’re talking about lighting, a phenomenon, whether manmade, or natural, which has a deep effect on human behaviour.

Zumtobel’s Active Light concept revolves around the relationship of man and light dynamically in time and space. Many designers get carried away with architectural challenge and are not always aware of the effects of light on man and his surroundings. Active Light can transform spaces from static passive to a dynamic active state.

The dynamics of natural light can be mimicked with the help of technology, such as tunable white, which allows continuous variation of intensity and light colour from warm-reddish to cold-bluish during the day, brought back indoors. The principle of active light is derived from natural light, and the two do not compete with each other.

There are many practical applications of active lighting, all of which make the human needs its focal point. Here are some of the most common applications and how light can maximise its potential within them.

Active light in workplaces

A study by Zumtobel shows that not only are there different preferences in the light colour, but that the standard lighting intensity of 500 lux is perceived as too low in the workplace. Active Light follows the principles of human-centric lighting and brings the dynamics of natural light back to the office day. The increasing consumption of LED light via television or other electronic devices during the evening hours can have a counter-productive effect. It is possible to create specific lighting conditions in the office with individual control options, depending on the task and individual preferences, and increase the light intensity up to 800 lux.

Colours, too, play an active role in enhancing architecture with creative freedom. This trend is booming now in the corporate world. More and more offices are trying to get away from dull colour palettes and introduce something eye-catching to heighten the interest of staff, especially the digital-age workers. To make our luminaires future-proof, from the aesthetical point of view as well, Zumtobel has launched new colour accents: white, black, silver, bronze and raw for Mellow Light, Vaero, Ondaria and Light Fields collections.

While the white inconspicuously blends a luminaire into a painted ceiling, a model in silver creates a transition between the luminaire and exposed concrete. For the accents, bronze, black and natural anodised aluminium termed “raw”, can be effective.

The new colour palette complements the Active Light concept that is aimed to make people feel more at ease at work so they can focus and get motivated.

Emotive lighitng in retail

With the customer getting more and more demanding, retail chains are trying their best to create unforgettable shopping moments for attracting the customers to their shops. With vast online shopping offerings, it can be quite a challenge. Hence, retailers are trying to combine the physical and digital worlds to provide a seamless omni-channel experience.

There is a big move nowadays towards the so called smart retail: adaptable and connected shopping that allows personalisation and big data processing. It is used for customised offers and mapping the customer journey.

On the back of this new type of retail, Zumtobel took an active part in a study called "Limbic®-Lighting" which captures the emotional responses of different personality types to specific light scenarios.

Active Light integrates the insights gained from this study and helps to provide the customer with the preferred light mood simultaneously presenting brands and products in the best possible way. A carefully designed shadow play from the change of light direction creates a skillful dramaturgy in the product display.

Connecting man and architecture

Active seems to be a word du jour when talking of the energy usage. Increasingly, buildings are designed to be more sustainable, eco-conscious, LEED-certified green, utilising a self-sufficient approach to energy supply. For instance, the Abu Dhabi Investment Council (ADIC), located in the Bahar Towers, has become a landmark of the city's skyline and an attraction mainly for its mashrabiya-inspired biomorphic moving façade.

For the ADIC structure, which consists of two cylindrical towers each with a height of 150m, Aedas architects together with the engineering firm Arup developed an innovation for then extremely hot and sunny climatic conditions in Abu Dhabi. The façade offers thermal protection while simultaneously allowing optimal use of the solar energy. All of these measures combined reduce the CO2 emissions of the Al Bahar Towers, built in accordance with the LEED standard, by 40%.

The vertical installation of the Slotlight II in the ceilings of ADIC produces the impression that the light is moving toward the centre of the cylindrical building, therefore accentuating a central design element of the architecture. The minimalism of the interior is enhanced by the round shape and efficiency of Panos infinity downlights.

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