SLL Light Lines May/June 2020

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Health and wellbeing

of this knowledge, then we could position comfy high back chairs adjacent to and facing towards the external windows. The company could then have a policy that to make and take a call you move to be in one of the window chairs. But what if your dayto-day task means you make very few calls?

'There is no agreement on what the criteria should be. Furthermore, there are no criteria on what we shouldn’t do, which is far more of an issue' Well those people could have desk positions nearer the windows or desk positions with the highest quality of views. Equally, those staff who are out of the office a lot are given the desk positions in the middle of the space, which is something we have recently done in our own office. With some existing deep-plan offices there may be a need to be more brutal and cut out the slab in various places to create double-height zones to help the light enter the office. Obviously there is a loss of floor space with that approach but this could be offset through the use of smaller desks. Would we all accept a smaller desk if it meant access to more daylight? What if we all gave up 150mm off the width of our desk but in return we received 20 per cent more daylight? A similar option would be to move the facade inbound a few metres and provide an external space on each floor.


May/June 2020

Again the working arrangement could be for the staff to use the space for certain functions (weather permitting). Another answer, and one which I don’t subscribe to, might be that healthy lighting is provided through electric light alone. With the use of say 2700K (warm) to 6000K (cool) lamps, some fairly basic control and an astronomic time clock, the electric lighting would replicate the shift of colour and could even replicate a shift in light intensity, albeit at a much-reduced level. Say 150-200 lux in the morning, 7501000 lux at midday and back to 150-200 lux in the evening. This approach should be a concern, as if the research shows it satisfies our non-visual needs then it could lead to even deeper-plan offices and some offices with no access to daylight at all. So, what should we do? While we are waiting for more research to be completed in this area we need to be cautious. What we do know is that we are providing ourselves with the best lit environment if we make use of daylight and all of its qualities. As such this must be the primary light source if we are serious about designing healthy lighting. Daylight has a quality about it which we all instinctively recognise and enjoy. When offered a choice of seating we will head towards a window seat or view. Daylight also provides us with space which is animated. Patterns of light are created and move within a space throughout the day, the intensity of light fluctuates and we enjoy the change as it is natural and connects us to the outdoors. We need to provide everyone with a view, and statements such as those in the BCO wellness guide which say, ‘views should be provided where possible’ need to change to say ‘views should always be provided’. Providing electric light which follows the colour temperature of daylight and, in a reduced way, the intensity shift throughout the day can be part of a healthy lighting solution, but should not be the sole solution. Equally, providing a space which is more natural, in that the different areas are lit in different ways, will enhance the feeling that we are connected to the natural environment. Lighting the soffit and not just faking it with recessed LED panels again gives us the sense we are outdoors as the sky is bright and not just the pavement. Is any of this new to us? Not really, but

maybe we are now realising that we should have done more. The final question is who can make the changes needed? I get the feeling from the number of people I speak to that the desire is there to improve our workspaces but the cost of land and construction is currently an issue. Then again, we are seeing that clients will pay more for spaces that have been designed with health and wellbeing in mind. But how much of an uplift is daylight worth? Will it take more than just new research and revised guides? Do we need a statutory document which sets out minimum daylight exposure for indoor workers? As we went to press, because of the coronavirus situation it was uncertain whether or not the LR&T Symposium on Applying Light for Human Health would still go ahead at UCL on 18 June. Please go to for the latest update on this and other events. This article first appeared in FX April 2019

Andrew Bissell, FSLL MCIBSE, is global director of lighting design at Cundall Light4 HealthWellbeing/ WellnessMatters.aspx research/the-biophilic-office/

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