Perspective

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Andrew Bissell, Director of Lighting Design, Cundall Light4
Andrew has been at Cundall for over 12 years. His approach is to develop a narrative for the lighting design, so that it is unique to the client, ensures that the solution focuses on the visual needs of the users and the latest research and technology is used appropriately to deliver the highest quality of lit spaces. He has worked across all sectors in the lighting industry, with a focus on workplace, daylight design, galleries, museums, aviation, public realm and retail.

What is ‘Productivity Mapping’?
Productivity Mapping is a new methodology for assessing and visualising how effective a floor plate is at supporting productive working. Utilising simulation or real time indoor environmental quality data for temperatures, indoor air quality, access to daylight and views to outside, Cundall have been able to use the findings of global academic research to assess the hourly impact on productivity based on these factors. The tool can be used to review and optimise the annual impact of different architectural test fits or to understand which building would be able to provide the most productive environment during a due diligence process. A 2.5% improvement for an organisation with a £20M turnover is £500,000 – so payback period can be measured in days.

What tech is occupying your thinking now?
There are quite a few, such as the ‘Machine Learning’, ‘Internet of Things’, ‘LiFi’, ‘Casambi’, ‘Light Quality Meters’ and ‘Circadian Lighting’. Some of these technologies are not strictly new but there is a need to balance what is available, with what the end users and building managers will use. Not everybody needs everything – you must understand the people you are designing for.

Name one thing that will have disappeared from the workplace in the next decade.
I worry that many people will experience an absence of sunlight and daylight for most of their working day in the next decade. If the lighting guides or, say, the WELL Standard allows ‘circadian lighting’ to be delivered by electric light alone, then developers may simply omit the windows, add some circadian lights and declare a building as healthy.

What is the single biggest impact to the workforce that affects productivity?
It is not that simple to pick out one element and say ‘focus on that’. For example, views are the most important or the amount of daylight is the most important. All indoor environmental quality parameters are important and need to be considered, as well as other factors, including stress. However, we do know that the affects of each parameter cannot be simply summated – there is a law of diminishing returns. So, as part of Cundall’s Productivity Mapping tool, we are able to tailor the effects of each parameter to different activities within a business.

Can artificial lighting replace natural light and therefore lead to a windowless office?
Views and particularly views of nature are vital to our health and wellbeing. Equally, the spectral distribution, colour rendering quality and intensity of natural light is very different from artificial lighting. As our knowledge of health, views, daylight and lighting matures, then end users will recognise a good office from a bad one. It may well become very difficult for employers to convince candidates to work in deep plan spaces.

What are the biggest challenges you and your team face?
There are now many projects where the lighting design is specific to the people and interior architecture within a space and the feedback is always positive. However, we are still seeing an insistence by some people in the industry for grids of lights, which deliver static lighting level and a high uniformity. We need to end this way of thinking if we are to improve the quality of office spaces.

What is the one thing that you would change when working with architects and designers?
Nothing, it is always perfect!

What was your most challenging or favourite project to date (and why)?
The Sainsbury’s Digital Lab in Holborn and Plexal at Here East are two favourites. Both spaces have been designed around the people within the spaces and the tasks they perform. The basement environment of the Digital Lab is vibrant and lively and feels nothing like you would expect. Equally, at Plexal, the lighting is far from a standard office solution and with wireless controls and mobile lighting, the space can be changed quickly and easily to suit the business demands of each tech company.
Is there a new fad, buzzword or trend starting to surface in your world?
We are delivering more and more animated lighting solution into workspaces. This is generally happening in deep plan spaces where there is effectively no link to the outside world, the time of day or the weather. We are introducing patterns of light and shadow, which change through the day, as you would experience with sunlight passing through the branches of a tree or through a structure or façade detail. When you consider that the lighting guides typically call for static lighting levels and uniformity, it is interesting that we are in a period where clients and end users recognise that variable lighting levels and patterns are preferred as they better reflect the natural environment.

Can you share with us a lesson learned and never repeated?
Something often left out with regards to the lighting scope is the detail design. The early sketches and renders are great to sell an idea or lifestyle but there must be an equal amount of effort put into the detail.

What is the best thing about working for Cundall?
Our focus is all about people, the world we live in and what we can do to make things better for everyone.