Leafy light installation changes with the seasons

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Simple artificial intelligence changes the lighting profile in response to the time of day, the season and the physical space itself, among other factors

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For an outfit whose innovations include "light recipes" for indoor farming, indoor LED navigation and LED-embedded carpets, you'd expect Philips Lighting to have some pretty swish lights at its offices. And you'd be right. Its headquarters has a new canopy built from 1,500 "leaves" that serves up different light scenarios throughout the day and year.

The artificial tree is installed in the atrium of the Philips Lighting HQ in Eindhoven, Netherlands. The atrium's purpose, of course, is to welcome people into the building, but also to host exhibitions, meetings and public talks. Designed by architectural firm LAVA, in partnership with INBO and JHK architects, the tree covers the entire ceiling of the space.

The installation is based on the concept of light filtering through a tree canopy and demonstrates a variety of light behaviors that occur in such a situation, such as reflection and diffusion. There is a user interface via which it is possible to change the settings of the installation manually, but it is also programmed to run automatically in response to different stimuli. Simple artificial intelligence changes the lighting profile in response to the time of day, the season and the physical space itself, among other factors.

This, says LAVA, is designed so that workers can experience the changes in light over time that they would otherwise miss when cooped up in an office and to energize or relax building occupants throughout the day. A variety of the lighting profile aspects change, such as intensity, velocity, rhythms and patterns. Examples of the resulting effects can be to create a golden, sunrise-like energy boost in the morning or to give the impression of clouds or birds moving overhead.

"Light was obviously the main driver, but LAVA's design goes beyond just showcasing technical solutions — it explores a deeper understanding of the nature of light," explains LAVA director Alexander Rieck in a press release. "Light is only visible to the human eye when it reflects on something, so the sculpture gives shape and visibility to light."

The 1,500 leaves, or panels, measure 600 x 600-mm (23.6 x 23.6-in) and are suspended from the ceiling using wire. Each has a reflective surface on its back so that it can contribute to the play of both light and shadow. In this way, the panels filter and reflect natural light from the atrium side windows and skylights too. All of the panels have sound-absorption properties to help improve the acoustics of the atrium as well, while a third of the panels are also light emitting. The installation includes a further 50 spotlights.

The project began in July 2012 and was completed in May of this year.

Source: Lava

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