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Effects on Light and Shade on Our Environment

Light and coloring be capable of have a profound influence on the we perceive and interactive with our environment, effecting us holistically, at heart, body, and soul. Altering just how we experience space, changing our perception of spatial classification and percentage.

Light and color serve as mediums for communication and information. They help orientation and influence movements; differentiate space, set up hierarchy and indicate function; conveys symbolic messages; they are a manifestation of the Zeitgeist and connect us to the entire world where we live.

Light and color have major influences on our psychologically influencing our feelings, sense and creating associations, physiologically impacting on our well-being on both a visual and non visible basis.

Piturity gland etc. ?

One would usually connect the above only with the sense of view but both light and shade induce synesthesia, evoking organizations with senses such as style, smell, kinesthesia, heat and according to some even influence our perception of the time.

The way we comprehend and experience light and color it more complex when compared to a simple optical arousal. Our perception is because interplay of both physiological and the emotional factors in the conscious and subconscious. We have many prepossessions and preconceptions and light and coloring which can be created through personal experience, be a result of ethnical affects and/or eduction or be part of genetic make up, developed over millions of year of advancement.

There are six basic interdependent factors which incorporate to give us are perception of light and color, biological reactions; the collective unconscious; conscious symbolism and association; ethnical and mannerisms; tendencies, styles and styles; and personal interactions and factors

Biological Reaction

Our natural reactions occurs not only because of this of the visible pathway. Light and therefore colour aslo result us a through neural pathway or 'energitic' pathway. With the energietic pathway light and color stiumli are taken directly to the brain and onto the pineal and putrity glands, which control the creation of hormones. This in turn can effect famous brands, metabolism, blood pressure, stress and hostility.

The Collective Unconscious

the collective unconscious refers to notion which is not rationalised by our conscious thoughts or our own personal experiences. Corresponding to Jungian psycholgy "the collective unconscious is the part of our psche that has nothing in connection with conscious or unconscious effect predicated on personal experience amessed during our life time"

The collective unconscious includes architypes, primordial and latent images, impressions and organizations, in our gentic constitute. Predispositions devloped thorugh millions of years development and the introduction of our kinds and cause us to interpret the surroundings in same way our predecessor

The creators Hall and Nordby express it as:

"the collective unconscious is a reservoir of latent images, usually called primordial images by Jung. Primordial signify the 'first' or the 'original' which means primordial image make reference to the initial development of the psyche. Man inherits these images from his ancestral recent, a past that includes all of individuals ancestors as well as his prehuman or pet animal ancestors. "

Conscious Symbolism

Funadmental organizations and impressions manufactured in the conscious. There are several associations to certain shade with are universally, and are browse the same no subject the culture or eduction, for example yellowish with light, blue with sunlight and green with mother nature.

The symbolism of the light and color can be particulary significant in the field of architecture credited to there connects to evoking disposition and sense. Light and colour suggest ambiance or coolness, alter one understanding of whether a room is friendly, etc

Cultural influences

Although there a wide range of colour associations which can be universal, we must also consider how different culture have different organizations for some colours. For example japanese culture is commonly more responsive to softer colours, prehaps this pertains to a greater understanding of materiality. Indian culture on the other palm has a larger affinity to loud, bright and vibrant colouration.

There are also certain colors which gain higher relevance in a certain shade. A good example of this is actually the religious need for renewable in Islam.

Trends Fashion and Style

Our interpretation and perfernces of colour can affect with what is in vogue at a specific time. Styles in the built environment have a tendency to change over a less regular basis than in other. Although responsing to styles in architect and interior design may not bring about creating the very best environmets as different enviroments have different requirements, developments can make a difference in producing a sense of zeigheist. Such as for example ?

Personal Human relationships and Factors

Our marriage to space is highly inspired by personal and subjective factors such as personal dispostion and specific personal experience, for example one would usually affiliate blue with coolness but if burnt by a blue thing may cause an connection to warmth. Other personal factors can change perceptions of light color include sensitivity, era, character and nature and are physical and mental make up.

Colour mindset can be segregated directly into interlinked subdivisions, applied color psychology and 'depth coloring psychology'

applied colour mindset is the one which generally applies to architecture. It deals with the execution of the predetermined internal effects to create a spatial ambiance to create psychical benefits thus physiological benefits, or even to convey a particular imagery. More?

Symbolism and imagery of light and colour.

"For this is through symbols that man confirms his way to avoid it of his particular situation and 'starts himself' to the overall and the universal. Symbols awaken a person experience and transmit into a spiritual take action, into a metaphysical understanding of the world"- Mircea Eliade

For a large number of years natural light has been used for its powerful associations, for early man light held more significance than perhaps any other time, it was the giver of life and revered to the extent of worshipping sunlight. Its relevance however has diminished especially since the intrusion of unnatural light

Light can be thought to be metaphorical in conjuring thoughts of another place or idea. It can be symbolic, representing another thing often whatever immaterial such as infinity, and frequently symbolic of that which we do not totally comprehend. Light gets the quality to make a power ephemeral status to be.

For link to times season Zeitgeist?

Darkness is also important in this experience not only as a compare too dark but in its own symbolism and representations, and the states of mind it generates, having less light suppress the aesthetic, heightening the other senses. Strong darkness presents the unknown leading to state governments of apprehension, unease and even to phobia.

The interplay of light and dark can lead to the the creation of contemplative or theatrical light.

Luis Barragan advocates the use of what he calling half-light

"architects are forgetting the real human need for half-light the type of light that imposes a tranquillity, in their living rooms as well as their bedrooms. . . we have to try to retrieve mental and religious ease and to alleviate anxiousness, the salient characteristic of the agitated times, and the pleasures of thinking, working, conversing are heightened by the lack of glaring light"

One of the few cultures in which the design of such conditions is prevalent is Japanese traditions. Quote for in praise of shadows and example?

Another way to generate places of contemplation is to use diffuse or baffled light, producing a degree of uniformity "contemplation is nourished by the lack of distractions"

Metaphorical Light

Metaphorical light extends the role of light beyond that of simply of revealing, it denotes light that is employed to conjure a visions of an different locality, for example its may be used to as a representation of aspect, blurring boundaries providing one the impression that they are not in a interior setting.

The use of metaphorical lighting is vivid in the works of musician Edward Hopper. In his painting NY Movie, Hopper uses contrasts in light to identify between the fanstay world of the theatre and the truth in which the usher keeps on with her everyday activities.

Symbolic light is employed as a representation of the immaterial and the unembodied, beyond that which is portrayed by the metaphorical, intricate notions such as life and fatality.

An powerful exemplory case of this is the Vietnam Warfare memorial in Washington D. C. The titles of the lifeless are inscribed in the specular granite surface of the wall membrane. The ever-changing reflections of light and the surrounding remind us of our place and temporal natural in this world and thus our mortality.

For a large number of years light has been from the spiritual facets and viewed as the manifestation of divinity and the ethereal. Since prehistoric man light, sunlight have been linked to the scared, prehistoric worshipped the sun build monuments align to its summertime solstice to honour it, as this is when its was its most powerful. Tombs were also built with reference to sunlight, often align to face the sun go up on the summer solstice. The light of a new day and the growing sun gave hope of an after life

"the natural dialect of light and dark is a robust one with which to express architectural meaning"

Specific shade also hold symbolic associations. Many of these are fairly evident, however these primary associations over time have lead subsequent affiliations or may take on induce different associations. The collective conclusions from a number of experiments have shown that many are widespread however there could be slight variations in several civilizations and religions.

Associations have from individual experience, going completely back to early man. As reviewed above primordial images etc have been stored in the human genome former on from generation to technology and contribute to our colour notion. Eckart Heimendahl shows that our colour conception evolves from three types of symbolism: ritual symbolism, traditional symbolism and aesthetic-emotional(psychological) level symbolism, which fuse to provide us our connection with colour

"one of the most striking top features of the results related to perference, connotation and colour-mood associatations is the consistancy in one individual to another, from group to group and cross-culturally. There has been a lot of cross-cultural studies contrasting subjects in America, lebanon, Kenya, Botswana, greece to mention a few. Monkeys have been compared to Man, men to women, children to men and women, layman to architects. As another creator concludes, it would indicate either our heritage is in a way that we learn right responses, or that there is some innate ambiance a reaction to different colors" (Kuller 1981 p. 164)

The note a colour conveys and thus it psychological effect is dependent on colorings hue and the surroundings where it rests. Even the slightest change it a hue nuance can alter its so this means. The materiality of the color also plays a substantial role in this process, which will be talked about later.

The following will give and over the imagery and information that the visible hues are affiliated to.

Red is a warm, rousing colour with both positive and negative associations. It positive connotations are the aforementioned warmth due to its connection to flames, as well as enthusiasm, power, activity and love. Its more negative affiliations include trend and hostility, ferocity, although these have served a purpose throughout history. A good example of this in military services, where red was used to improve mind collections and convey a hostility.

Red also stand for blood, which to some may portray an unfavourable note, can also represent life. This is perhaps linked to early man and also require concluded that blood offered life after witnessing blood leave your body a slaughtered prey.


Red is the dominating and breathtaking shade as its focus point is behind the retina which give the impression that it's protruding


orange is a mainly positive shade and is normally thought to have hardly any negative connotations. Although less assertive than red its is still vibrant and enthusiastic, with lighter build being cheering. Orange also offers connections to nature reminding us of fall and sunsets.

Brown is a darker firmness of orange which again has strong links to characteristics, prompting thoughts of the earth. Since it is earthly is suggest security and steadiness. However certain cover from the sun of dark brown may be less nice and dreary and even dispiriting.

Yellow is considered to be the 'happiest' colour credited to it luminous and radiant nature and thus it will increase ones spirits. Perhaps its is most powerful and spiritual affiliation with sunlight, and therefore with light and life. Yellow was also the colour of mercury in, best known for being the messenger of the god, but was the god of business and income, as well as the god of the traveller, thus yellow can stand for religious enlightenment.

Green focus exactly on the retina and for that reason is the easiest colour on the eye. Because of this green is calming and refreshing. One of green major associations is mother nature and vigorous expansion. Early on rituals were based round the lush green of vegetation and thus is a symbol of food and life, as a subsequence in Christianity presents hope and immortality. Green also offers significant spiritual value in Islam where it is undoubtedly a holy color. In stark contrast certain variants of green can express a message of mould and decay and consequently death. Based on its position between yellowish and blue green has different effect, a green nearer to yellow can look to be more stimulating while bluish green appear cooler and even more tranquil

Blue like green is comforting and retiring, but appear cooler than inexperienced although darker tones may actually feel warmer. Materialtiy also impacts its relative warmth, a dark blue, solid carpet won't provoke a frigid sense. Blue induces feelings of calmness and as a result contemplation and because of its obvious link with water blue provides expresses cleanliness. However if not used correctly blue can be cool and depressing as refered to in the phrase "I've the blues".

Blues symbolism has lots of cultural versions. In Rome blue was the colour of your philosopher robe and shown wisdom. In China blue symbolises immortality and holiness to Hebrews.


white symbolises many positive things, structures it prompts a sense of openness and freedom, a white space will always feel more expensive, however if the portion of white is to better it gives a sense of emptiness. From a multi-discipline point of view, white conjures images of cleanliness, purity, innocence and serenity. In Asia white is the color of mourning but in a confident way, as the think that death upon this earth is the beginning of a better life.



Over and under stimulation

In terms of of both physiological and mental factors the total amount of arousal is important in providing the right environment. Both over-stimulation and under-stimulation can have unfavorable impacts on our well-being and the entire impression of a space. For an environment to be most appropriate a balanced variety should be form.

"Balance is the securing of unity midst variety. Both variety and unity must sustain interest, and these opposing makes must be well balanced. Variety is necessary to get and arouse interest; unity is vital to create a favourable impression and desires. Variety overdone is perplexing and annoying. Unity overdone is monotonous. The mark of colour layout is knowing where you can stop between these extremes"

Exposure to a overly complex visually chaotic environment or extremely monotony, whether it be through color, pattern or distinction can benefit us physiologically by triggering changes in rates of breathing, blood circulation pressure and pulse, thus lead to increased stress levels Over stimulation can induce a rise in muscle anxiety and is believed to increase ones susceptibility to illness which can result in ulcers and coronary disease.

Surprisingly dull under-stimulating conditions can cause boosts in heartrate. With no external arousal one becomes more aware of there inner self. Subject to individuals mentally and characteristics if their thought, this may lead to dread, anxiety and distress.

On a internal level an under stimulating and so sensory deficiency environment may lead to a lack of focus, restlessness and irritability. Under activation can also lead to notion disorders.

"It cannot be pressured enough that the total amount between unity and complexity is the first and most important guideline in the look in beneficial conditions"

However in certain situation it could be the designer purpose to set-up space which are under stimulating. It space may be design as a spiritual and contemplative space which induces one to look inside themselves for enlightenment. . .

To understand the scope of light and colours effect, we should consider it on its own as well as the how it responds and relates to its environment.

Our cognition of light and colour can be basically influenced by the way they contrast with there surroudings. There a number of different contrast romantic relationships which alter just how perceive and separate:

Light-Dark Contrast

In its simplest conditions this is actually the comparison between light and shadow. But can also refer the to difference between lightness of colours, but the compare is most prominent in the achromatic i. e. when no hue is included. Light dark comparison can be handy for differentiating space. However too great a comparison will cause visible fatigue and pressure.

Chromatic-Achromatic distinction.

Combining the chromatic with the achromatic will alter the perceived intensity and luminosity of the chromatic coloring. White and grey nuances weaken a colours luminosity and therefore can be used to neutralise. Alternatively dark increase a colours luminosity.

Complementary Contrast

Complementary contrast occurs between two shade which are as different as you possibly can, location directly opposite on a color wheel. Each complementary distinction has its unique feature. For instance a distinction between orange and blue gives the greatest warm-cool description and a yellow-violet distinction supply the most intense light-dark contrast. Result/importance

Intensity contrast

Describes the comparison between shades of the various saturation. Intensity compare is best used when a when little bit of pure colour are used as an highlight amongst muted colours, which provide a particular feature emphases while preserving the over ambiance of the space.

Quantity Contrast

Quantity contrast is the proportional marriage between the colours in an area. The proportion of a specific colour takes on major role in creating spatial explanation and impression

Flicker Contrast

licker is a over stimulating comparison, occurring when intense shades with similar lightness or darkness are merged is an area. This sort of contrast shows that the colouration has not been considered properly, flicker contrasts should be avoid.

There are two other physiological contrast which also need to be taken into consideration when evaluating the impact of coloring, successive comparison and simultaneous compare.

Simultaneous distinction is the phenomenon where by a color will be perceived differently with another type of foreground, background or environment. For example if a natural grey is place on a surrounding shade background the gray will appear to truly have a hint of the complementary colour of the background color. The perceive change is not fact but is because ones 'color experience'. Simultaneous comparison does not only influence hue and saturation but also brightness. For instance grey can look lighter against a darker background

Successive comparison is a happening where by if some may be put through a coloring stimulus for a lot of time an 'after image' of its complementary coloring will occur. For instance if one stares at a red surface for an extended time period then check out a white surface, the white surface can look to be blue inexperienced. This 'after-image' is believed to be the result of fatigue. The have an effect on is temporary but still can be troubling. e. g. ?

"The physiological the truth is that the attention requires any given give coloring to be well balanced by its complementary, and can generate it if it is not present. Complementary colors also provide emotional balance to warmness and coolness of shade. "

The after image is a physiological result which signifies than use us of complementary colors the the simplest way of fabricating a harmonious space


Synesthesia (Greek, syn= mutually + aisthesis= belief) is a neurological condition in which the stimulation of 1 sensory modality evokes a experience in another modality, or the crossing of several sense. Light and color not only activate the sense of eyesight but arouses sensations in a great many other of the other senses through visible and non aesthetic means.

Perception of weight

as an over-all rule darker and much more saturated colours can look to be heavier and more dense than lighter and less saturated shades. Warmer colorings will also appear heavier than the chiller coolers if the same hue

Perception of size and distance

The lighter an area is the greater open it'll be identified to be thus a space will appear to have a larger volume when compared to a dark space. Within an area lighter colorings, cooler colours and small habits can look to recede. With darker or even more saturated seeming the protrude thus making distances seem to be shorter.

Perception of temperature

it is widely believed that visually, colour can transform our notion of whether an area is warm or cool. Because the development of the hypothesis several experiments have been witnessed which appear to prove that which was thought.

One such example is identified by Johannes Itten in his publication The Components of Colour, is test illustrates a big change in the heat at a person felt cold in various coloured room

"Occupants of the blue-green was feeling that 59 degrees Fahrenheit was cold, while the temperature were required to fall season to 52 diplomas Fahrenheit in the red-orange room prior to the subjects felt cool"

evidence from a corresponding Norwegian review drew an identical conclusion, where subjects arranged a thermostat four levels reduced a red room compared to a blue room.

However test also showed that the result where only short-term and after a time period the effects get started to decrease.

Perception of Style and Odours

Certain shades can evokes organizations with tastes or smells. Colours such as lavender, pale yellow and green have pleasant associations with smell and colors such as coral, very soft yellowish and light renewable are associated with nice likes. These affiliations can be handy in professional situation to help improve unpleasant environments

Perception of Sound

Gestalt psychologists such as Heinz Warner, Krakov, Allen and Schwartz have produced research that strong odour and taste can transform our perception of colour. It is suggested that strong flavor and odours make us more less sensitive to red and much more to inexperienced.

On an identical note through color association may be used to offset loud conditions. For example you can mentally connect highly saturated warm colour with being noisy, cool and low saturated shade having the opposing effect, thus cool or low saturated shade may be used to help offset loud environments

"a loud atmosphere will be experienced subjectively as nosier or even more bothersome if paint with glaring yellows or reds. Shrill and high pitched tones may be offset by olive green"

Perception of Time

Some researchers believe that light, coloring and pattern can alter our estimation of your time. One theory is the fact that subdued, monotonous areas cause someone to overestimated time. Perhaps this is related to boredom and under-stimulation. It is a conception that point passes quicker when the first is enjoying themselves.

Light, color and our notion of space.

"Space remains in oblivion without light. Light's shadows and colours, its different sources, its opacity, transparency, translucency and conditions of representation and refraction intertwine to identify or redefine space. Light subject matter space to uncertainty, forming some sort of tentative bridge through domains of experience" - Steven Holl

The way we use and understand an area is greatly affect by light and shade combined with the factors referred to. Above the have the ability to define limitations and differentiate places. They offer orientation and consciously and unconsciously impact how we move through a building. Furthermore due to the synesthetic sensations they stimulate as described above, light and coloring alter the identified dimensioning of an area. "Space, even as we experience it in architectural configurations is because our complete perceptual system. One perceives the surroundings not with the eyes but with eyes-in-the-head-on-the-body-resting-on-the-ground"

As we've found out light and shadow can be a powerful tool with which to uncover meaning. However they also play a major role in determining our sense of space, if we change light we adjust our perception of architectural space.

Before structure, surfaces, ceiling and floor, it was light which estbalished limitations. At night a 'room' for early on man was defined by light admitted by fire, the extremity of which arrived when light faded into darkness.

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