Explorations of Evidence-Based Design for Lighting
Evidence-Based Design (EBD) is defined as the process of basing decisions about the built environment on credible research to achieve the best possible outcomes. In practice, evidence-based design often relies on less than rigorous data, supposition, and presumption. Preparation for the 2020 lighting thesis studio involved an effort to understand the principles of evidence-based design through exploration of both good and flawed examples of this type of design. With this as a foundation, students began to explore three “subthemes” in evidenced-based design: Light and Well Being, Social and Cultural Responsibility in Lighting, and Advanced Technologies and Measures. Ultimately each student’s individual work fell into one of these subcategories.
Studio work began with an emphasis on evidence-based design through experimental research using a class research project—where the entire group designed an experiment, using a tunable white lighting system in the Light and Energy Lab. In parallel, students began to develop individual experimental projects of the student’s particular interest. The group project provided a model for principles of experimental design that could be carried out in parallel in the individual student projects.
Student projects ranged from studies of the impact of light on perception, to subjective responses to lighting and the influence of light on behavior, to an evaluation of lighting metrics for color and lighting specification, to light in the context of social responsibility.
Although the coronavirus interrupted us mid-stream, the students persevered and although not entirely as planned, remarkably completed excellent work. As design students may not conduct experimental research as a part of their future work, understanding the principles of good experimental design and developing a critical eye for true evidence-based design should enable them to better address cutting edge issues in lighting design in the future and integrate this information into the lighting design process.