Birgit Schulz

Birgit Schulz (2014), Impact of Chromatic Light Installations in an Architectural Context, Institute of Spatial Design; 1st reviewer: Irmgard Frank, 2nd reviewer: Maximilian Moser; 145 pages, German.

The aim of this project was to find out whether or not people are affected by exposure to chromatic light. The effect of light on people’s states of mind and spatial perception was examined from various perspectives and systematically investigated, starting from situations of extreme chromatic light and ranging to the examination of different colour temperatures. The human scale was used for the presentation of the light situations and examined 1:1 in mock-up spaces. Different stimuli from the environment and the psychophysical level of perception and the resulting physiological evaluation were examined in an interdisciplinary architectural context on the basis of three studies. It was attempted to gain insights into the overall context of the personal experience of light and its influence on the perception of space. The first study took place in a group and dealt with the basics of the perception of colours of objects and the thus induced states of mind of the participants in the study. In a room with six different chromatic light installations and one white light installation, with an exposure time of 90 minutes per light installation, questionnaires were answered and colour cards allocated. Since the study participants appeared to be generally influenced by exposure to chromatic light, the second study was extended to include measurements of the physiological reactions of heart rate variability. In a room containing six chromatic light scenes an exposure time of eight minutes, questions about induced state of mind and spatial perception of architectural models were asked by means of questionnaires and a semantic evaluation. Study participants were questioned individually. The third study deals with asking application-oriented questions in the context of a shop. Questions regarding spatial perception and atmosphere under lights of different colour temperature and the distribution of light in the room were asked. Additionally, a physiological measurement was carried out to provide information about the physiological reactions of heart rate variability. Merging the data from the psychological and physiological parts of the study confirmed the assumption that chromatic light affects people individually. The implicit assumption among colour designers that blue has a calming effect and red an activating effect cannot be clearly reproduced – at least for light – and is thus not generally valid. The results show that there are different coloured-light personalities about which it is not easy to generalise. Only few studies on chromatic light in real spaces in an architectural context have been carried out. Since coloured light has a big importance in architecture, and taken that light technology is developing quickly and the field of application of chromatic light in day to day architecture is constantly increasing, follow-up studies in this field are definitely called for.

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