Natural Rhythms and Temporal Perception - Visualization of Sunlight Patterns with Energy Monitoring

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Virginia Tech


In his book Ritual House, Ralph Knowles states, "The houses we inhabit, the cities surrounding our houses, even the clothes we wear - all are shelters we erect against the elements. But they are also manifestations of ancient rituals, developed in response to nature's rhythms" (2006). Implicit within this quote is the importance of nature's rhythms in our lives, particularly those related to the movement of the sun. Many built environments have no connection to the exterior. Those who work in these spaces are disconnected from these natural rhythms and often experience detrimental physiological effects. However, technology has the potential to reintroduce aspects of natural rhythms into built environments.

This research crossed disciplinary boundaries separating architecture, engineering, psychology, and building science during the design of an architectural intervention for an interior workspace known as the Sandbox, at Virginia Tech. The design proposal includes skylights that combine Photovoltaic-integrated glazing with LED lighting to create conditions that stimulate the occupants while connecting inside to out. To reestablish a connection to natural rhythms the BIPV energy monitoring is used during the day to record variations in solar radiation which at night are played back through intensity and color variations of LED lighting. The effect of the LED lighting was compared with the sunlight entering through the skylights using quantitative analysis methods and qualitative visual comparison tools including time lapse photos and videos. The research merges architectural design, lighting technology and BIPV to demonstrate a proof-of-concept for the reintroduction of natural rhythms into built environments.



BIPV, lighting, LED, solar radiation, natural rhythm, temporal stimulus