A Breakthrough in Biophilic Lighting Design

Lightglass offers the first practical solution to bring daylight to spaces with no exterior walls.

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“The fundamental goal of biophilic design is to create good habitat for people as biological organisms inhabiting modern structures, landscapes, and communities,” wrote the eminent theorist of biophilic design, Stephen R. Kellert, in this magazine.

There are a number of design strategies designers use to bring the outside in: We build with natural materials, include indoor foliage, provide connections between inside and outside, and support circadian lighting. These interventions seek to create a more natural habitat for the human creatures that live, work, and play inside our buildings.

Lightglass offers an easy solution to bring circadian lighting into even the unlikeliest of built environments. At a recent renovation to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia architecture and engineering firm Stantec did just that, using Lightglass luminous clerestories in 23 interior patient rooms to add brightness, richness, and character to an environment with no natural light.

We all need brighter days and darker nights.

Josh Butz

Unlike typical hospital rooms, which are lit solely from above, the light from the Lightglass clerestories feels like daylight because it is coming from the side of the room; outdoors the sun is only directly overhead for a short period each day, and our eyes are more sensitive to light from the sides. Lighting from the vertical plane, like that from Lightglass luminous clerestories, color-tuned or not, offers greater impact on circadian rhythm and melatonin suppression than light from above and can help in achieving WELL certification.

“We all need brighter days and darker nights,” says Josh Butz, an electrical engineer with Stantec, who worked on the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia project. “Lightglass was able to help us achieve the circadian stimulus values throughout the course of the day, because of the added impact of lighting from the vertical plane.”

This ability to mimic natural daylight is a boon to patients, heath care workers, and visitors. By creating a subconscious connection to the outdoors, and a much-needed stochastic stimuli for people who might spend hours without stepping outside, Lightglass makes this hospital feel a little more natural. Jennifer Lanting, an interior designer who worked on the project said, “The Lightglass looked like a real window in the space.” 

Constructed like a window, out of aluminum and glass, Lightglass Before the compact window-mimicking light fixture came on the scene, there was no practical way to bring a biophilic lighting solution to the vertical plane. “If we didn’t have Lightglass, I don’t think we would have found another product that worked,” remarked Lanting.

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