UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Gizem Izmir Tunahan

The impact of cultural background on daylight perception

Funded by the Turkish Ministry of National Education

Millions of people migrate every year, aiming at settling either permanently or temporarily in new places. People coming from countries with different intensity of daylight might have various perceptions and expectations towards the climatic and indoor conditions. It might result from previously accustomed lighting environment and other associated factors, namely individual cultural background. It is important, because study outcomes may be utilized by architects and lighting professionals on how to design lighting zones depending on occupants’ perceptions and expectations to increase occupants’ satisfaction. This knowledge, therefore, can be used to save energy because the efficient use of daylight can reduce the energy consumption of both HVAC and illumination systems. However, it is still not clear which cultural factors have an influence on daylight perception and how much impact can be seen indirectly on human health and wellbeing.

This PhD project aims at developing a conceptual framework on “cultural background” in the lighting environment and assessing the effects of cultural background on daylight perception. It aims to test various evaluation methods for subjective daylight assessment, such as subjective daylight ratings, seat preference and daylight boundary line drawings. For this aim, a systematic review, a methodological review and a few pilot studies were conducted. Through a carefully designed pilot study in the Bartlett Library, the preliminary results of the project concluded that there are differences in how people perceive the same daylight condition, and how they expect the different intensity of daylight due to their cultural background. A further study will be conducted with much bigger sample sizes, followed by an intervention or controlled experiment.