Designing for Visual Comfort in Senior Living Architecture: Improving Daylight Integration Through Use of High Dynamic Range Imaging and Glare Assessment

1 Well-being_Diagram architecture and lighting and comfort relationships

The US population is aging.  The subsequent increasing need for senior living buildings prompts architects to revisit the design logic of senior living architecture, especially how it can be more responsive to the elderly occupant.  With increased age comes a decrease in capabilities of the visual system.  The focus of my research is on glare, as increased glare sensitivity is a major issue affecting the comfort of the elderly population.

2 Fisheye lens image

This thesis provides a methodology and framework for analyzing glare, relative to the elderly occupant.  The approach discussed here is unique in that it combines technology and quantitative instrumentation with human behavior and qualitative perception.  The case studies used in this thesis provide examples of how the methodology can help gather information about existing luminous environments and translate that information into a computer simulation format.  With computer simulation, design changes can be made and evaluated relative to the base case scenario.  With this type of methodology, designers can have another layer of visual information to help increase the awareness of the impact of design on the luminous environment and visual comfort of elderly occupants.

3 Design Modifications

The focus of this research became about how to gather information about residents’ perceptions of their luminous environments.  Furniture arrangements and resident room modifications proved to be key elements for interpreting residents’ needs for lighting.  By overlaying the residents’ discussion comments, demographic information, and room modifications, a rich insight as to the built environment’s ability to satisfy the elderly residents’ needs for visual comfort was gained.  Through analysis, discussion, and observation, new design heuristics can be developed, providing more sophisticated responses to the visual comfort and overall well-being of the elderly population.

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