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Daylighting: Functional Versus Poetic, Science Versus Art - A Critical Analysis of Daylight Perception Through Aalto’s Municipal Library, Rovaniemi, Finland

Part 2 Dissertation 2011
Wing Lam Lo
Cardiff University Cardiff UK
Through an in-depth case study of Alvar Aalto’s Municipal Library in Rovaniemi, Finland, this dissertation examines an approach for gaining a holistic understanding of daylight perception.
The approach fuses universal scientific knowledge with personal sensations and experiences. To date, research on daylighting has resulted in a fair scientific understanding of daylight quantity, but not of its quality. Existing lighting codes and standards have generally adopted these scientific findings, specifying different luminance and illuminance levels for different spaces.
These design standards do not, however, appear to have helped with the reduction of lighting energy consumption. On reviewing the development of lighting codes and standards between 1967 and 2010, as well as current daylighting research, existing lighting codes focus mainly on the science of daylighting, rather than on the art of daylighting. This implied that they cannot
completely or accurately represent what our eyes actually see and perceive.

This qualitative research, therefore, critically explores the way daylight quality can be understood through both science and phenomenology. In this research, existing psychophysical methodology formed the basis for a scientific understanding, whilst ‘measuring’ daylight quality with our naked eyes and recording it through sketching formed the basis for an approach towards a phenomenological understanding.

This study confirmed that it is difficult to define a robust research methodology for understanding daylight quality. Phenomenological understanding can be influenced by social and cultural parameters, highly diverse and difficult to control. It is thus important to recognise all these limitations when attempting to deliver a more complete picture of daylight perception. It is worth noting that this study is specifically directed at extending phenomenological methods into regulating lighting quality, where this research has identified a lack of phenomenological
understanding in lighting codes. This study has added to our understanding of daylight
perception in a holistic way. In short, scientific terms alone cannot explain an individual’s experience, whereas phenomenological terms alone cannot make accurate predictions. But it is not meant to blur the distinction between science and phenomenology. Instead, it argues that there needs to be greater focus on phenomenology, personal experience and collective memories
in future daylight researc

Wing Lam Lo

Dr Wayne Forster
Ms Mhairi McVicar
Dr Andy Roberts
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