The Psychological Evaluation of Urban Lighting Design

TiL 2018 - Humanizing Tech

The Psychological Evaluation of Urban Lighting Design

This study is based on a psychological approach to light in urban Environments which is designed to improve perceptual and residential quality in inner-city areas at night. Due to the number of confounding variables that arise from field tests in the real world, VR technology was chosen as the study methodology and implemented by Professor Greule at HAW Hamburg, Die Lichtplaner company and the psychologist Torsten Braun.

Four central questions were formulated for the study:
1. Does the more expensive creation of VR scenes for the evaluation of light offer more advantages than traditional visualisation methods such as Photoshop or Relux Suite?
2. Is VR technology sufficiently suitable for the reliable collection of psychological constructs to encourage future light studies to use this methodology?
3. Do different approaches to planning (e.g. brightening façades) have an influence on emotional evaluation?
4. What planning recommendations can be derived?

In the first part of the test, 21 participants evaluated a scene that was presented with three different visualisation qualities. The representation had no influence on the emotional assessment of the scene.

However, qualitative statements from the individuals showed a clear preference for high visualisation quality. This helped improve the way differences in brightness, texture and architectural quality were perceived. In the second part of the study, the main test, participants were presented with a total of 19 different lighting situations via an Oculus Rift headsets. The emotional impact of these scenarios was recorded using a semantic differential. At the same time, four items enabled product-based appraisals of the design and lighting effects of two different outdoor lighting systems. Alongside various results, the following conclusion could be drawn: Lighting situations can be evaluated in detail with the help of VR simulations. Lighting experts are able to analyse a VR simulation more precisely, but this series of tests did not reveal an alternative psychological evaluation of the lighting situations. This means that VR simulations allow for the comparison of different lighting systems. It is possible to plan and therefore predict the residential quality of a particular location. Lighting quality and good lighting technology are immediately perceived by participants. The psychological evaluations of simple lighting solutions are worse. To help preserve the identity of a location, surfaces and objects that are visible and important during the day should also be discernible when it is dark.

Objectives of the lecture…
Virtual reality is a useful tool to predict the visual psychological assessment of environmental situations.
The methods of virtual reality seem obvious and are readily accepted by users.
The inter-individual agreement in the assessment of environmental situations is very high.