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Sleep, Light, Architecture

Inaugural seminar of the Sleep and the Rhythms of Life Network

Monday 14 November 2022, 4.30pm – 6.00pm
Online and In-person event
Radcliffe Humanities Woodstock Road Oxford OX2 6GG
Register here to watch online

The inaugural seminar of the TORCH network Sleep and the Rhythms of Life features Professor Russell Foster, Head of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford and Professor Ian Ritchie.

Russell FosterBody Clocks and Life Time

In the twenty-first century, we increasingly push our daily routines into the night, carrying out work, exercise and our social lives long after dark. But we have forgotten that our bodies are governed by a 24-hour biological clock which guides us towards the best time to sleep, eat and think. New science has proven that living out of sync with this clock is not only disrupting our sleep, but leaving us more vulnerable to infection, cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and mental illness.

In this talk Russell Foster draws on his research into circadian rhythms to reflect on the role of light in governing our health and social functioning.

Ian Ritchie – Life is the Opium of the Architect and Shadow its Form

Without light and shadow there is no architecture. The history of architecture can be interpreted as the story of light as its essential material – first by allowing light to penetrate through openings in solid walls then through small openings in the roof. The 1851 Crystal Palace’s envelope became almost entirely transparent. In 1981 building transparency became the metaphor for the political mantra of President Mitterrand, Rice Francis Ritchie invented structural glass for the Bioclimatic Facades of the Cité des Sciences in Paris, Had we inadvertently introduced the potential of shadowless building envelopes?

Our experience of the world is predominantly through light, and it conjures the atmospheres of our emotional existence, from the 480nm wavelength in the morning sky that triggers our biorhythm to the romantic and kinetic candle-lit dinner.

What of darkness itself, without which no discourse on light is possible? It brings every other sense we have alive. Our bodies are not simply functioning to allow us to ‘see’.