Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Are Glass Modular Homes On the Horizon?

More people should live in glass houses, according to one London startup. The Photon Project, a company led by the founder of an architectural glass manufacturer, is aiming to test the biological impact of natural light on the human body by building a series of all-glass modular homes and testing how a little extra sunshine can improve occupants' health.

The project is based on the research of Oxford University neuroscientist Russell Foster, who studies the way light regulates our circadian rhythms and what the regulation does to our health and productivity. Over the course of four years on an island in Denmark, the Photon Project will study 300 participants' physical reaction to living in an almost all-transparent house for short periods of up to three weeks. The Photon Pods have special architectural glazing designed to keep their glass pods from becoming hothouses, and the company claims that the glass houses are comfortable in most climates without heating or cooling. Research suggests that exposure to natural light has several health benefits. People sleep better, have a decreased risk of prostate cancer, and more.

By the end of the experiment, the Photon Project claims it will reveal how designing for daylight "can have a positive effect on health, well-being, mood and behavior, as well as creating the blueprint for design and architecture to take account of human needs." Commercial versions of the Photon Space will also be available, in case you want to experiment with your own living space.

Of course, not everyone wants to live in a glass box, no matter how wonderfully they sleep when they do. A study of New York buildings found that residents and office workers with those fancy floor-to-ceiling glass windows typically keep their shades drawn, rather than soaking up the sun.

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