The Daylight Award, established by the philanthropic foundations VILLUM FONDEN, VELUX FONDEN and VELUX STIFTUNG, honours daylight research and daylight in architecture, for the benefit of human health, well-being and the environment. The award places specific emphasis on the interrelation between theory and practice.
Photo: Mannisto Church, Kuopio, Finland by Juha Leiviskä
Conferred biennially in two categories, The Daylight Award for Research and The Daylight Award for Architecture, the 2020 edition of the Award has been exceptionally attributed to three laureates. The third and extraordinary award for lifetime achievement, made for the first time this year, celebrates the 40th anniversary of the very first Daylight Award, given to Jørn Utzon.
“Whether elucidating the neural effects of light or invoking the poetic essence of light, the laureates of the 2020 Daylight Award demonstrate to us the power of natural light”, stated the jury.
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The jury conferred The Daylight Award 2020 for Architecture to Juha Leiviskä (Finland), architect and designer, author of a number of religious buildings including Kouvola Town Hall in the late 1960s. Among his work are the Vallila Library in Helsinki, the German Embassy in Helsinki, and the Ad-Dar Cultural and Conference Centre in Bethlehem.
The jury praised the play of colour and light characterising Leiviskä’s work: “The colours brighten and then fade, appear and disappear according to the intensity and direction of sunlight, like breathing. In his design of residential buildings, Leiviskä pays the same attention to the quality and intensity of daylight for the occupants’ visual comfort and wellbeing. He does this calmly, simply, and in a refined way without seeking effects”.
The Daylight Award 2020 for Research was attributed to neuroscientist Russell Foster (UK), today Director of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology and Head of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford.
The jury recognised the impact of Foster's clinical studies on sleep and light on medical science including sleep medicine, psychiatry, neurology, geriatrics, ophthalmology, immunology and even cancer medicine. “In identifying the neural substrate for a non-visual light pathway to the brain, he has demonstrated the powerful and wide-reaching impact of light on human health”, the jury states.
In the exceptional lifetime achievement category, the winner was Professor Emeritus of architectural history and design at the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Henry Plummer (USA). Displaying a lifelong dedication to researching daylight in architecture, he has published numerous remarkable books revealing the transformative power of daylight in architecture.
The jury admired Plummer’s “unique approach to revealing the transformative, metaphysical qualities of daylight” combining “his power of narrative analysis, with his outstanding skill as an architectural photographer.” Plummer’s work, they said, has “inspired generations of architects to reveal and celebrate the experiential aspects of daylight in architecture”.