It’s hard to imagine a world without light in our society today; it’s used for so many different things like lighting rooms and walkways at night. We use it to see but it also plays an essential role in the way we interact with the world. From the beginning of time natural light from the sun dictated the times in which human were awake and roamed the earth. This disappearance of the light told humans when they were to rest. Human biological patterns are tied to the natural patters of the sun. That being said the change in patterns on sunlight have a strong effect on humans and the ways in which they perceive space.
According to Nanet Mathiasen and Nina Voltelen in “Light and Shadow”, light not only provides vitamin D for humans but also affects people’s moods. Since our daily patterns of rest and movement are tied to the patterns of the sun, in northern climates that receive even less sun in the winter have a greater amount of people who experience winter depression due to lack of exposure to light and whereas in more warmer climates near the equator that have a lot of sunlight year round don’t experience these same depressions (115). Our built environment may also include another possibility to capture light and create different atmospheres that force people to respond differently.
In so many buildings today the use of artificial light is used to light rooms even when there is plenty of natural light available during the day. Not only are artificial lights an excessive use of energy, they do not have the same quality or affect natural light has over spaces. Mathiasen and Voltelen suggest that there are three different types of daylights architects should consider when planning, daylight, skylight, and reflected light (119). I think these different types of light sources are important when designing because they show a deeper understanding that goes beyond just simply lighting a building directly, but each light creates a different type of atmosphere created by the lights. Architects can use the variety of light source to enhance a simple room and create better spaces for specific types of activities to take place such as a room for activity verses a room for rest. Typically humans don’t gather in completely shaded rooms during the day and prefer rooms that have a balanced quality of light.
The Laban Centre in London utilizes the different effects of light to create open spaces that inspire dancers to perform and students to create art. The Laban Centre utilizes translucent and transparent materials, which allow filtered light to enter the space and create an environment that not only feels weightless but also conveys a huge sense of openness (Figure 1). This is important considering the activities of dance and performance that take place in the theatre, the building itself acts as an open light well that emphasizes its performers. The space of theatre is both inspiring and also challenges the conventional use of artificial lighting.
During the day there is no need for excessive artificial light and the filtered light that enters through the translucent walls highlight the materials differently throughout the space. The floors, although concrete, become reflective pools and the walls look as if they are expanding down through the floors which adds to the open feel. The careful use of materials to convey openness also expands to the exterior of the theatre (FIgure 2).
The use of translucent glass and plastics on the facade almost make the theater appear as if it were floating off of the ground. The lightweight materials are also interrupted by reflective windows that reflect images of the natural landscape, which appear to cut right through the building to the opposite side. The careful design and consideration of light in the theater have created a space that is more inspiring than a regular building that uses artificial light. I imagine the space feels more relaxing and open to be in.