The Window Project stems from an observation of how profoundly our experiences, mood, and well-being can be affected by where we are in any given moment – not just by the people and objects we interact with, but also by the environments themselves. In particular, my Thesis explores the issues and possible solutions for interior settings that lack windows.
Windowless spaces can be detrimental to our health, and affect people in a wide range of scenarios – homes, offices, schools, and various other settings – which can have a major impact on how we feel and function. I’m intrigued by the ways we’ve used research and technology to try to simulate natural light, or the benefits of it, in order to help counteract some of the ways we’ve often manufactured the absence of it from our daily lives. While there’s some irony to that, an advantage is that we can optimize it to suit our needs. But, while artificial light can increasingly approach the spectral quality and some health attributes of natural light, the light that comes through a window still tends to feel more comforting. Windows connect us to what's happening outside, to other people, to the world…
I've developed a range of window-shaped lighting products designed to evoke our relationship with the window itself, for some of the psychological comfort that a window can provide, in a way that other artificial light may not. Some of my concepts mimic traditional window treatments, for a sense of familiarity and a peripheral cue for a suspension of disbelief. These prototypes can also be engineered as smart windows, using GPS location and industry-leading LED technology for tunable white light throughout the day (progressing from warm light in the morning, to cooler brighter light at midday, and then a warm dim leading to an electric sundown).
Other concepts are more abstract, drawing attention to the lack of a window rather than trying to disguise it. These offer cognitive and emotional benefits by generating awareness and incorporating functionality like setting a timer to periodically shut off, reminding the user to take a break and maybe step outside for some natural light and Vitamin D, for circadian health and improved well-being.
For research substantiation, I've read a wide selection of books, articles, and studies (about windows, their history, construction and legislation, the science of light, artificial lighting, the impact of windowless spaces and daylighting on our health and psyches), I spoke with several experts in various fields, explored existing products, and conducted two surveys.
I also took into consideration the possibility that the best solution for windowless spaces may not be a product at all, but an actual window. However, adding a real window may not be a realistic option for existing windowless spaces. I believe my products could be the first part of a larger two-pronged approach, working towards greater awareness of the health detriments of windowless spaces, and perhaps also working in conjunction with efforts to change the architectural practices that perpetuate the problem, and ideally reduce the prevalence of windowless spaces in the future. As I’m not a policy maker or an architect, I also want to be realistic about how I can serve the problem best. If my products were to go into production, they could offer a solution for the immediate need to improve users’ experiences in the windowless spaces that already exist, and then some of the product revenue could serve as proceeds towards future policy change, especially if I can find and partner with the right players to help facilitate that larger goal.