As a side effect of the modernization of urban centers, humans spend an increasing amount of time indoors. Decreased exposure to sunlight pulls us further away from our natural biological rhythms. Since the brain needs light to regulate serotonin and melatonin, the hormones that control our sleep cycles and mood, this decreased exposure directly affects our health. During the winter months when there are fewer hours of sunlight, there is an increase in disrupted circadian rhythm conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD and other weather-related mood conditions are curable with proper application of light therapy. However, most people who exhibit symptoms do not seek this treatment, and of the ones who do, many do not complete the inconvenient therapy. But what if light therapy were administered passively through architectural lighting design that emphasized natural sunlight?
My thesis, Urban Therapy, explores the opportunity for lighting design to address a very common health condition in a way that can be replicated and incorporated into many built environments. The project focuses on the dark spaces that are typical of underground concourses and passageways. Using the Rockefeller Center concourse, my proposed design is an exercise in changing the way light therapy is delivered. Bringing sunlight into the daily lives of people on a large scale via daylighting, would create the illusion of walking outside on a sunny day.