Peter Zumthor Atmospheres

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I have just read Peter Zumthors book ‘Atmospheres’ that give some interesting insights into what he thinks determine the make up of a successfully appropriate atmosphere. ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ was a quote from the book that reinforces my premise that the ambience is only appropriate as far as the specific occupant.

I outline his 9 points of consideration for ambience:

1.  The Body of Architecture

Materiality, the make up of the architecture – Architecture as a Human Environment

2.  Material Compatibility

The relationships between the materials and the architecture/inhabitants and the surroundings

3.  The Sound of Space

The shape peculiar to each room and the surfaces of the materials they contain shape the acoustics and therefore atmosphere

4.  The Temperature of Space

The feeling in relation to the human bodies comfort level

5.  Surrounding Objects

Organisation of Space

6.  Between Composure and Seduction

How architecture involves movement

7.  Tension between Interior and Exterior

The interplay between the two and the boundaries created

8.  Levels of Intimacy

Proximity and distance. Eg: Lower ceilings make concentration amplified

9.  The Light on Things

How materials reflect light and the benefits of natural over artificial


Daylight Linking

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Jean Nouvels “Institute de Monde Arabe” in paris. Visibility and ambience controlled by actuators. These diaphragms operate like a camera lens to control the sun’s penetration into the interior of the building. The changes to the irises are dramatically revealed internally while externally a subtle density pattern can be observed.

Detail to show the facade of the “Institute de Monde Arabe” showing an actuator to control the openness in the façade.

Data Based Ambient Transitions

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‘Laban’ was the thesis project for my undergraduate in Architectural Studies. I focused on the circulation and density of people within certain areas of a building. After mapping peoples movements throughout the course of a day I transferred this data into my design to help create an ergonomically sound building in which the amount of light entering the building was in direct correlation to the amount of people in space. Using a series of Heliostats and Convex mirrors, the degree of placement move as the sun tracks the building.

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Residency at Queen Elizabeth Hospital

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This project is called ‘Seeds of Recovery’, developed by loop.pH working with the hospitals Elixir Arts Programme over a nine month period. Loop.pH developed design solutions to improve the hospital environment that also assists in regulating the heat and light levels of the space.

Systems and Technologies

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Ambient Intelligent systems are explicitly spatial, they arise out of concerns for the movements and actions of people in space and they suggest a model of spatial design and architecture that employs interaction systems to create different modes of communication in an environment.

A variety of technologies can be used to enable ambient intelligent environments. The technologies used are directly dependant on the type of activity to be undertaken and therefore equipment required and intelligence needed. Technological capabilities are progressing at rapid speed. In accordance with Moores Law, data density on integrated circuits is continuing to double every eighteen months. Storage, capacity, CPU, speed, memory, wireless transfer speed and battery energy are all showing similar rates of change. More functionality is becoming possible at lower cost, with easier configuration and more wide spread possibilities. The environments that are created today have an essential requirement to provide a platform for possible change; otherwise what is created today will not be appropriate for use in five year’s time.

A typical example of this interaction could be a bio sensor network monitoring physiological parameters – heart rate blood pressure or sugar levels. Some of the sensors may be body worn others may be integrated into the surroundings connected through a network. An example of this is in health monitoring applications in which alarms or drug doses may be adapted using information from the ambient sensors, both at network level and on a one to one basis.

The benefits of ambient intelligence are in their ability to adapt an environment to counteract uncomfortable architectural parameters or to a personalised preference of comfort in order to create a space of cognitive balance. Lighting can adjusts its intensity level and colour profile to your level of stress or your activity needs, kitchens are able to adapt its configurations to cognitive needs during cooking, offering recipe guidance and real-time monitoring. Desks in offices are smart in predicating needs for computing and building systems adapt air quality for comfort and lighting levels for productivity.

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