2013. Vol.4, No.9, 711-716
Published Online September 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/psych) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/psych.2013.49101
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 711
A Research on Light-Color Perception: Can Visual Images Be
Used Instead of 1/1 Model Study for Space Perception?
Department of Interior Architecture and Environmental Design, Faculty of Art and Design,
İstanbul Kültür University, İstanbul, Turkey
Email: b.manav@ iku.edu.tr
Received July 10th, 2013; revised August 6th, 2013; accepted August 29th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Banu Manav. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribu-
tion License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original
work is properly cited.
This paper examines designing a research on architectural coloring process and approaches to develop a
color-emotion space model for human visual system. Matched on relevant methodology, a study is ex-
plored to compare modes of color evaluation with the following hypothesis; can slides of a real setting be
used instead of 1/1 model study for space perception? The study is composed of two interrelated parts.
Firstly, 1/1 model room is designed in order to investigate lighting quality, color evaluation and visual
perception in respect to the lighting scheme. Secondly, slides of this model room are projected to a par-
ticipant group to evaluate the room for lighting quality, color evaluation and visual perception. The
methodology is based on investigating between the two cases. The 1/1 scaled model and replication of the
same study by its slides are analyzed from lighting quality and lighting quantity point of views. The find-
ings suggested that there are similarities between the results, however the 1/1 model room provides a con-
trolled setting for human based research, visual impact is stronger and subjective impression is more
realistic. As a visual research method, replication of a real setting (by its slides) can be used instead of
constructing the real case which may also bring flexibility and lower cost to design studies.
Keywords: Architecture; Color Modelling; Color Space; Cognitive Color; Visual Perception
Light and color perception in architecture address theoretical
and methodological issues in regard to an individual’s percep-
tive and psychological functions as well. As recent research has
consistently shown that light entering the human eyes has an
important non-visual biological effect on the human body, its
influences on human health, well-being and productivity at the
work environment are an important issue to be studied (CIE,
2005; Sanoff, 1991). Parallel to this argument, in the works of
various researchers, qualitative rather than the quantitative as-
pects of the luminous environment have been studied (Pultar,
2000; Farnsworth Manual, 2012; Manav, 2007; Kaya & Crosby,
2006; Ural & Yılmazer, 2010; Camgöz et al., 2002; Ou et al.,
2004a; Ou et al., 2004b; Xin et al., 2004a; Xin et al., 2004b). In
these works, it is mostly aimed to solve problems related to
visibility (physiological needs) and psychological comfort
(health, well-being, mood, alertness et cetera).
Therefore, lighting design and architectural coloring studies
comprise research methods such as full scale model work, CAD
modelling which stand as a forum for professionals, clients,
students and researchers to discuss and develop basic issues
related to light color perception. In spite of the empirical re-
search and knowledge which attempt to describe color-emotion
models, people environment relations and color-light interac-
tion on user comfort, the need for reconsideration of literature
within an architectural context is inevitable. In order to design a
research on architectural lighting and coloring process and also
to develop a guide for space perception for human visual sys-
tem, a holistic approach to the era is essential where quan-
titative and qualitative components in human perception system
shall be evaluated together.
The presented article addresses a research and an evaluation
on light color studies in interior architecture. Modes of cogni-
tive color evaluation and color appearance in regard to lighting
design are based on various factors for which different measur-
ing techniques are developed. In the study, a case study is dis-
cussed with the following research problem; can slides of a real
setting be used instead of 1/1 model study for space perception?
Space Perception and Light-Color Studies
Perception is defined as the immediate mapping of objects
into the brain while cognition refers to subsequent processs of
semantic and verbal classification of perception (CIE, 2005).
Perception in interior architecture depends on the visual cues of
the physical space, in other words, the characteristics of the
visual environment, such as size, shape, texture, color, position
of the object to the viewer (Sanoff, 1991). At this level, light as
a physical sensor from the immediate environment activates the
physical process and ends up with the psychological space. We
interpret the color scheme-lighting level, furniture style and
other interior design elements as indicators of personal judg-
ments, such as complex, spacious, private, relaxing et cetera.
As a result of short term or long term impressions, we can also
identify the nature of the spaces that depend on the judgment of
their quality and status.
Collectively, elements of the physical environment not only
form a setting, but also are a part of the experience of being
there, in that particular setting. For instance, light and color
influences our perception of temperature which is a parameter
for an appealing environment in psychological process (Figure
1). It can create comfortable situations (warm/hot) or the oppo-
site, the uncomfortable situations (cold). Similarly, the same
space can be perceived distracting, hazy, dull, unspacious, in-
traverted or vice versa, bright, relaxing, spacious, extraverted in
regard to the color scheme together with lighting. As being an
indicator of visual perception, light can evoke or subdue visual
comfort conditions. People have personal experiences and in-
herent beliefs some of which are associated with culture, age,
gender as well. These parameters together make up the light-
color emotion space. Figure 1 illustrates how physical envi-
ronment activates human perception system with an emphasis
on factors which are affective on space perception mechanism.
An important aspect of architectural space is man’s involve-
ment in its generation and his partaking of life in it. In this
sense, a research on space perception shall be designed in rela-
tion to our way of understanding the surrounding. It shall de-
pend on a set of visual cues which is developed from knowl-
edge-based systems and cognitive beliefs as well (Pultar, 2000).
Symbols and cognitive schemata affect human perception as
they form the essence of man’s knowledge. These are all part of
knowledge-based system which can be broken down into five
categories; starting with a research question, type of research,
methodology, data recording type and data analysis. Similarly
evaluation of lighting on user satisfaction is related to cognitive
beliefs, gender, culture which all have been studied before.
Model Workshop Studies
Architectural design process also flows from a series of studies
which bring into open the subconcious. Full scale color model
Human perception system and factors affecting the architectural light-
workshop is the representation and simulation of the real case
conditions. It is an effective tool to analyse and to evaluate
light-color-mood association and preference. As being similar
to the real case conditions, it is reductive, it also targets a theme
or a research problem such as structure, space-form, light, color,
sound and environmental quality (Morris, 2006). The model
workshop also helps to achieve a coincidence between the in-
tended and finalized design idea while investigating an optimal
fit between the user group and the designed environment (San-
off, 1991). Each of the parameters in the model setting is in
their original scale and it is easy to set up a controlled research.
Results of many studies can provide cues to enhance the im-
portance of full scale model workshop in architectural design
process and to study human perception system.
Full scale model workshop has generated light and color re-
search issues many years ago and many researchers still take a
great interest in it. Starting from 1970’s onwards, different
issues such as quality of light, light-color interaction and user
comfort have gained importance. These are related to the qual-
ity of life that aim to eliminate factors such as sick building
syndrome, post occupancy evaluation, design quality indicator
et cetera, meanwhile, trying to improve user’s well-being, mo-
tivation and performance.
Lund Simulator, which is one of the best known full scale
model workshops, is developed by Janssens and Küller in order
to investigate and to evaluate human perception system in re-
gard to the physical environment. This is helpful to evaluate
and to understand how color in a particular interior is an affec-
tive component of visual perception, on behaviour and on
comfort. There are relevant studies which aim to investigate the
difference between the results of full scale model works and
their replication through the slides of the same model. Results
clearly indicate that, the real case setting (constructed one) and
the slide view (unconstructed one) are different by means of
visual perception (Flynn et al., 1992; Manav & Küçükdoğu,
2008). Though there are similarities between full scale model
work and simulation of the real case by the pictures and/or
slides, the results can not be generalized due to the fact that the
difference in perception between the constructed and the un-
constructed. Also, as Kwallek and his colleagues have stated,
viewing color pictures/slides of a particular interior is not real-
istic (Kwallek et al., 2006). They suggest that, people shall be
exposed to real interior environments which are more realistic
to evaluate subjective responses. For instance afterimages can
also occur in real case settings by affecting the perceived color
scheme, which is not possible in the unconstructed one.
Simulation R esearch
Since the beginning of 1990s, computer aided manufacture
(CAM) has made it possible to translate computer designs into
three dimensional forms (Morris, 2006). Environmental simula-
tion studies via video screens, virtual reality, CAD modelling
could also be advisable. However, these simulation methods
provide to analyse psycho-physical components without con-
structing them. Yet, lighting effects and color evaluation is
completed under real-case settings where light-color interac-
tion is an important parameter, as well as, interreflections
through which three attributes of color (hue,value, saturation)
may be effective on human perception system, as well as the
illuminance, luminance, constract factor of the lit environment.
CAD modelling, Cave (Computer Assisted Virtual Environ-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
ment) and similar 3D modelling programs are developed in
response to a challenge to perceive the unbuilt environment, to
conduct research in various virtual reality settings and scientific
visualization fields. However, light-color perception is the re-
sult of experiencing it and is accompanied by associated mean-
ings. These programs are helpful to experience the unbuilt en-
vironment, as they can enable participants to meet in a virtual
space, however they are not the real case.
Psychophysical Experiments In-Between
Psychophysical experiments are conducted to investigate
light-color-mood association, lighting effects, color appearance
of small color sample studies in full scale models where envi-
ronmental conditions are influential design parameters. For ex-
ample, Tangkijviwat et al. (2010) argued that, a color could be
perceived as a property of a surface when its luminance level
was quite low. Secondly, it was perceived as a property of light
source or light itself (for example self-radiating) when its lu-
minance level was adequately high. Thirdly, its mode was quite
ambiguous because it possessed both surface and light quality.
They named these conditions as the mode object (OB-mode),
light source (LS-mode), and unnatural object (UN-mode), re-
spectively. Their findings showed that the color chips with high
chroma and high brightness yielded high scores, hues had a
small effect on color preference and the light source was an
important parameter to define color preference. They also
found that color appearance mode had an influence over color
preference. This supports Manav et al.’s findings which indi-
cated that color associations seem to rely on individuals’ pre-
vious knowledge and experience. Color preferences change
when they are observed as a color set. The difference may be as
a result of the color properties or as a result of the light source.
It is advised to study chromatic-achromatic adaptation together
with the light source to have more reliable interior spaces (Xiao
et al., 2010). These studies highlight the importance of the light
scheme as a design parameter in order to investigate color pref-
erences, psychological and psychophysical aspects of color. As
indicated in Ural and Yılmazer (2010), Stahre et al. argued that
colors are perceived more distinct and stronger in a full-scale
Xiao et al. (2010) investigated the size effect of color ap-
pearance between small color samples and full scale models. In
the study, the walls were painted by 12 different colors and
were assessed using 2 different matching media: CRT and NCS
color atlas under two different light sources. CIECAM02 was
used in transforming XYZ tristimulus values to human percep-
tual attributes: lightness, chroma, hue. The experimental data
show a clear trend that a color becomes lighter and more color-
ful when its physical size is increased. It is also found that these
effects are independant of the light source. However, Manav et
al. compared the appraisal of a full scale model with respect to
3 dependable variables versus 4 different wall colors, illumi-
nance and color rendering of the light sources (2009). Accord-
ing to the results, illuminance and color temperature are influ-
ential on personal evaluation factor, spatial evaluation factor
and factor of originality separately (Manav et al., 2009; Manav
et al., 2010).
Studies of physiological and psychological effects of full
scale colored room interiors on people indicate that coloring in
an interior space has effects on different levels. Human percep-
tion system is affected by the room interior, also the color
schema has effects on the emotions and physiology as de-
scribed in Figure 2. As indicated in Küller et al. chromatic
effects of red (strong, vivid) has put the brain into a more ex-
cited state, event that causes a paradoxical slowing of the heart
rate. Introvert people have affected strongly in comparison to
the extraverted ones which cause severe changes in their per-
formance as well (Küller et al., 2008; Küller, 1970; CIBSE,
1984). Good color design serves to improve the overall mood
and well-being of people such as brain activity, mood and per-
As mentioned before, modes of light-color evaluation and
appearance of the lit environment can be compared via various
methods. In the present study, the responses of the participant
group for 1/1 scaled model and the replication of the same
study by the slides are compared, with a particular emphasis on
visual perception and color evaluation.
The differences and similarities between two different visual
research appraisal of the visual environment in relation to
lighting quality and color evaluation are evaluated with the fol-
lowing hypothesis; can slides of a real setting be used instead of
1/1 model study for space perception?
The methodology is based on investigating the 1/1 scaled
model and replication of the same study by its slides. These two
cases are analyzed from lighting quality and lighting quantity
point of views. The study is conducted in two parts. In the first
part, a 1/1 model is designed where a series of studies on light-
ing quality, color evaluation and visual perception are investi-
gated. The lighting system is operated by an automatic lighting
control system where lighting level can be controlled, so does
the luminance values.
The full scale model is a windowless room with no daylight
penetration. In the model study, 56 participants are asked to
evaluate the visual appeal of the room in regard to lighting
The test room, observation point, general view.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 713
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
settings (1000 lx, 750 lx, 500 lx and 4000 K versus 2700 K; a
total of 6 lighting settings as seen in Table 1) and color appear-
ance of the objects. Contrast factor is calculated and visual
appeal of the surrounding is evaluated. Figure 2 and Table 1
illustrate observation point and the measured points A, B, C
and D. Slides of the model room is projected on a white roller
blind at a windowless room.
jects on the table and on the wall, saturation of the objects on
the table and on the wall. 500 lx is preferred only for the im-
pression of relaxation. On the other hand, 500 lx is preferred for
relaxation and comfort for the slide simulation (indicated as S
in Figure 3). For the rest of the impressions, 2000 lx has got
Depending on the change in the illuminance, saturation level
on the object surfaces which are located on the table and on the
wall opposite to the view point increased which also affects the
visual appeal of the surrounding positively, so does the color
appearance. Similarly, when the space is viewed by slides, the
sudden change in the illuminance has also affected the visual
appeal and color perception positively.
Following this, in the slide view study, replication of the
model study is conducted with 36 university students who are
asked to evaluate a series of the slides in two parts, according to
vision (lighting quantity) and psychological (lighting quality)
aspects of lighting installations. The participants are free to
view the lighting alternatives until they decide on the most
satisfactory one. In case none of the lighting alternatives are
satisfying the tested parameter, they are asked to mention as
As the change in illuminance has affected the brightness
evaluation positively, measured luminance values for different
points have also increased which in turn is affective on color
perception. Color perception depends on luminance values
which is mandatory for space perception and evaluation.
The Model Study Measurements
In the first part; luminance values for different points on the
table are recorded under each of the lighting setting. Contrast
factor analyses are measured which are given in Table 1.
Comparing Model Study and Slide View; Lighting
The results indicate that, there is no glare for points A and B
with respect to the reference lighting setting (referred as 750 lx-
4000 K according the results of a previous study (Manav and
Küçükdoğu, 2008) and in regard to the CIBSE Standards
(1984), however there is a problem from lighting quantity point
of view for the points C and D due to the reason that the calcu-
lated contrast value is above 1.00. As glare diminishes the qual-
ity of space perception, visual performance is affected nega-
Firstly visual appeal at the model setting is analyzed and com-
pared in relation to two different color temperatures; 2700 K
and 4000 K. Following this, slides of the model is evaluated by
the participant group for 500 lx, 750 lx and 1000 lx respec-
The results clearly indicate that, it is not possible to general-
0510 1520 25 30 3540 45 50
pe r ce ntage s
2000lx (M)2000lx(S) 500lx (M )500lx (S)no difference (M)no difference (S)
Comparing Model Study and Slide View; Lighting
The effect of lighting quantity on visual perception and color
evaluation is analyzed by comparing 500 lx and 2000 lx illumi-
nance. It is clearly seen that, though responses to the lighting
settings are quite similar from visual perception point of view,
there are differences between the 1/1 scale model and slide
Visual perception analysis reveals that, for the model evalua-
tion, 2000 lx is preferred to 500 lx for the impressions of com-
fort, being wide and spacious, brightness evaluation of the ob- Figure 3.
Comparison of the model and the slide view for lighting quantity.
Luminance values and contrast factor analysis for points A, B, C, D.
Lighting setting Point A black Point B white |LtA − LbB/LbB| Point C red Point D grey |LtC − LbD/LbD|
4000 K 22.1 cd/m2 241 cd/m2 0.90829 71.1 cd/m2 37.9 cd/m2 0.876
4000 K 17.5 cd/m2 191.1 cd/m2 0.90890 56.7 cd/m2 31.5 cd/m2 0.8
4000 K 11.8 cd/m2 127.9 cd/m2 0.90703 37.5 cd/m2 21.6 cd/m2 0.736
2700 K 24 cd/m2 260 cd/m2 0.90769 128 cd/m2 54 cd/m2 1.37
2700 K 22 cd/m2 206 cd/m2 0.89320 101.4 cd/m2 46 cd/m2 1.204
2700 K 17.4 cd/m2 147.3 cd/m2 0.88367 60.5 cd/m2 24.3 cd/m2 1.49
ize the results of the 1/1 model and the slide simulation, as
there is discrepancy for the color properties of the light sources;
2700 K versus 4000 K under 500 lx, 750 lx and 1000 lx re-
spectively. However, impressions which are related to the
physical boundaries of the space have similar influences on the
participants. Under 4000 K, the space is perceived as wide and
spacious under the three illuminances. Also 2700 K is preferred
for the impression of relaxation under the three illuminances.
Model and slide simulation comparisons are similar under 500
lx and 1000 lx for comfort (4000 K), however under 750 lx
there is a discrimination; 4000 K is preferred for the model
while 2700 K is offerred for the slide simulation. In Table 2,
the summary of the results are given. Table 2 illustrates the
comparison of the effect of color temperature on space percep-
Saturation depends on the interreflections in a space and it is
related to the interaction of a surface by a light source. In the
study, saturation level of the colors are compared for two dif-
ferent color temperature under three different illuminance.
Saturation level of the objects on the table and for points A,
B, C, D on the poster (on the table) for 2700 K and 4000 K has
got the same percentage in the model study, while for the slide
simulation 4000 K is preferred under 750 lx and 1000 lx. When
the illuminance is 500 lx, 2700 K is offerred for the model
study, while 4000 K is offerred for the slide simulation for the
saturation levels of the objects on the table. Saturation level of
the colors on the wall is also evaluated for which both of color
temperature has got the same value.
Results and Discussion
The comparison of the model study and slide views bring
into the following results:
It seems to support the theory that the experience of a
lighted space is, to some extent, a shared experience for dif-
ferent measuring techniques. In other words, using slide
views of a space is to some extend valid in data collection
stage, however it is not the replication of the real setting.
Working with real case settings (1/1 model) is more rea-
listic and the visual impact is higher according to the find-
ings of the study.
It might be effective to work with different techniques and
to improve the results from different perspectives.
Working with different methods and techniques may pro-
vide flexibility. Flexibility in design research also helps to
shed light on the research problem from various points.
As explained in Rodeck and Mahnke (2007), concious and
subconcious factors play a role in visual perception. Every
color stimulus that is illuminated by a light source is recorded
from the physical (external) world corresponding with a subjec-
tive reaction from the inner world. For this reason, personal
reactions to color space shall be studied by the physical process
of seeing color and data recording in our brain. Through holis-
tic associations within our sensory system, a particular color is
not only a sense of sight, but also a sense of stimuli in the entire
context of human perception system. Therefore, its’ role on the
whole mechanism shall be studied systematically. A systematic
research approach shall be developed with a special focus on
The present study introduces a research on the differences
and similarities between two different visual research methods
regarding the appraisal of the visual environment in relation to
lighting quality and color evaluation. The slides of a real setting
are compared to the slides of the same setting. The results indi-
cate that, to some extent, there is a shared experience for the
two measuring techniques. In other words, using slide views of
a space to some extend is valid in data collection stage, how-
ever it is not the replication of the real setting. Working with
real case settings (1/1 model) is more realistic and the visual
impact is higher according to the findings of the study.
While designing a research on architectural coloring, there
are various research methods which have their own characteris-
tics and systematic approach. Three dimensional technology
gives a better understanding of concept and ideas. Scaled mo-
dels, especially full scale model workshop is costly and requires
a high budget and effort to set up, meanwhile they provide a
controlled real setting for human based research, visual impact
is strong and subjective impression is based on real case setting.
Color sample studies are two dimensional and are efficient for
theory development stage. Three dimensional visualization te-
chnology gives a deeper understanding of concept and ideas.
A combination of different teaching technology and visuals
are beneficial for achieving a better understanding of concepts
The analyses on lighting quality for the model and the slide view.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 715
and designs. Working with different methods and techniques
may provide flexibility. Flexibility in design research also helps
to shed light on the research problem from various points. It is
hoped that this paper provides a base to develop an under-
standing on comparing different methods on space perception.
The study can be enlarged by evaluating the simulation of the
real case by computer aided technology as well. In addition,
semantic differential scale can be adopted to compare different
visual research methods and a matrix can be developed.
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